Letsoalo lied to Molefe about his 350% salary hike‚ court told
Former Prasa acting chief executive Collins Letsoalo had lied about his astronomical 350% salary hike when asked if it was true by former board chairman Popo Molefe‚ the high court in Pretoria has heard.
David Unterhalter‚ for the former Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa board‚ said Collins and Molefe were on a trip to London when a call from a Sunday Times journalist inquiring about the contentious salary increase came through to Molefe.
“Molefe asked Letsoalo if it was true but he denied it‚” Unterhalter said.
This was despite e-mail correspondence showing the first thing Letsoalo did when he set foot in Prasa was to ask what former chief executive Lucky Montana earned and demanded that his remuneration be based on that.
Unterhalter said this was contrary to his letter of secondment‚ which made it clear that his chief financial officer salary and seniority would not change‚ save for the acting allowance not exceeding 12%.
Unterhalter said it was convenient that Transport Minister Dipuo Peters claimed she dissolved the board because it was unfit‚ yet was prepared to have a “delinquent” board for years‚ only to decapitate it after it acted against Letsoalo.
Advocate Etienne Labuschagne SC‚ Peters' lawyer‚ said the dissolution was as a result of cumulative performance and lack of accountability concerns and the litigating members knew it was coming.
He said Letsoalo's removal by the board in the wake of the R5.9-million salary hike scandal and the subsequently public spat were the last straw for the minister.
Labuschagne said Peters has‚ on a number of occasions‚ raised her concerns about irregular and wasteful expenditure‚ the board's failure to turn the agency around and its lack of accountability.
He said the parliament's portfolio committee on transport was also unanimous in its no confidence in the board and approved its removal.
“It is not surprising that the minister was upset ... the removal of such a board was rational in that (the board) was not in control of the finances and was a threat to Prasa and the public that must benefit from using state resources efficiently‚” he said.
The former board members‚ led Molefe‚ approached the high court in Pretoria to set aside transport minister's decision to dissolve the board.
Peters dissolved the board after it axed Letsoalo for increasing his salary by 350% without the approval of the board.
Judge Peter Mabusela has reserved judgement in the matter.
Earlier‚ Letsoalo's lawyer‚ William Mokhari‚ SC‚ failed to convince Mabusela that Letsoalo had direct and substantial interest in the matter and should be allowed to intervene and cited as a respondent in the matter.
Letsoalo wanted to be joined not only to assist the court in the case but also to clear his name he said was tarnished by damaging allegations made against him by Molefe in his founding affidavit.