The ousted board of the embattled Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) was about to launch legal proceedings against the Hawks for apparent dereliction of duty when its members were fired by Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters. This is alleged in supplementary court papers filed on Thursday night by Popo Molefe, the former chairperson.
In March, Molefe filed an urgent application for the court to declare the board's dissolution unlawful, reinstate the board members to their former positions, and prevent an interim board from being appointed. The board was dissolved by the minister in early March.
Molefe said in his founding affidavit the board had placed the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigations (the DPCI, or Hawks) "on terms" to render the necessary assistance to ensure that proper investigations are conducted.
He said on Thursday: "It [the board] is due, in the next 10 days, to launch proceedings against the Hawks to ensure the criminal proceedings are not further hampered."
Molefe wrote a scathing letter to Berning Ntlemeza, the Hawks' commander, days before he was fired, demanding action on the more than 39 allegations of corruption Prasa has reported in terms of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act. The parastatal has also seconded private forensic investigators to the Hawks –- who report to the DPCI but whose bill is paid by Prasa -– because of a lack of capacity in the police.
Peters, in her affidavit, says the board incurred fruitless and wasteful expenditure by paying the law firm Werksmans millions of rands to conduct forensic investigations into allegations of fraud and corruption after findings by the auditor-general and public protector. She contends the Werksmans investigations were "open-ended" and without focus.
Molefe, in his papers, details in what state Prasa was when the board were appointed, what the auditor-general and public protector found, and how the board proceeded to get to the bottom of matters.
- Werksmans' investigations have been "lengthy and complex" and entails the review of millions of documents;
- The board have instituted legal action against two contractors to try and recover billions of rands; and
- The board has also instituted disciplinary procedures against Prasa employees for misconduct.
Molefe and six other members of the board will on Friday bring an urgent application in the high court to have the board's dissolution set aside. Peters will oppose the action.