Lucky Montana. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES/ESA ALEXANDER
Lucky Montana. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES/ESA ALEXANDER

Former Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) boss Lucky Montana says he was the one who stopped the Gupta family and former president Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane Zuma, from manipulating the company's rolling stock programme.

Montana was testifying at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture on Friday.

“The Guptas tried to manipulate our rolling stock programme and I stopped them. I fought with them,” said Montana.

He added that he did not stop the Guptas because of their association with Zuma. It was their attempt to “do illegal things” that convinced him he had to act.

Montana said the Guptas were hopeful that their proximity to Zuma would earn them favours, but he refused, to protect the then-president.

“I said you cannot extort money in our names. I said you cannot tell people outside the country that you are working for us [Prasa] and you are working for President Zuma,” said Montana.

“Tony Gupta and Duduzane Zuma were there. I told them that this is our president and we have a duty to protect him. And I said if you guys go out of the country and you want money from these companies and you claim to work for the president, I am going to fight that and I will convey that to the president, and I did that.”

Montana, who left the company in 2015, also defended irregular expenditure at Prasa, which jumped from R500m in 2013 to R24bn in 2018.

For the time he was Prasa boss, Montana disputed that irregular expenditure reached R14bn.

Instead, he blamed former Prasa board chair Popo Molefe for “playing politics” and allegedly making it a point that the company did not submit supporting documents to the auditor-general for certain transactions, leading to such expenditure being classified as irregular.

Montana said Prasa had unqualified audit opinions for all the years he was at the helm of the company.

He said the highest irregular expenditure under his tenure was R100m.

“This R500m was cooked to justify appointing Werksmans, irregularly so, so that they could have work,” said Montana.  

“It is false that irregular expenditure reached R14bn because Montana was running this thing down. Chair, you can see that this was a political game being played.” 

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