Transport minister Dipuo Peters has accused the former Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) board chaired by Popo Molefe of collapsing the agency.
In an affidavit filed in the Pretoria High Court on Thursday in response to Molefe’s legal bid to have her decision to dissolve the board rescinded‚ the minister charged that Prasa had continued to show a disturbing picture of increased irregular expenditure‚ fruitless and wasteful expenditure under the erstwhile board.
Peters said the “unceremonious removal” of Collins Letsoalo‚ the agency’s former acting Group CEO by the erstwhile board would have meant that the control of Prasa would have reverted to the same board “which had overseen the virtual collapse of Prasa before the appointment of Mr Letsoalo“.
Letsoalo has since made clear his intention to ask the court for permission to join the proceedings‚ according to a letter from the State Attorney’s office. He wishes to respond to damaging allegations in Molefe’s founding affidavit.
Peters said she had to act in the public interest and remove the board and appoint an interim structure.
She said the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on transport approved and commended her actions.
“The applicants have misconstrued my actions in appointing an interim board after their removal as constructive contempt. Their interpretation is self-serving and betrays their lack of appreciation that Prasa could not continue without an interim board even for a week‚” she said in the affidavit‚ which she deposed after the court deadline.
Peters said that the reason for her late filing had everything to do with the “unreasonable and truncated” time frames set by the applicants‚ which she said required censure by the court.
According to Peters‚ the ex-board used Letsoalo’s 350% salary increment saga to remove him. She said Letsoalo had a good record as a corruption buster and an enforcer of compliance with public finance governance structures.
The urgent application‚ which was set for Thursday‚ has been moved to Friday for Molefe’s lawyers to reply to Peters’ affidavit as well as Letsoalo’s intervention application. — Tiso Black Star Group Digital/The Times