State capture commission of inquiry

Hawks must answer for inaction over looting at Prasa: Zondo

30 June 2020 - 20:01
By Mawande AmaShabalala
Deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo has called on the Hawks to intervene in rampant looting at Prasa over many years.
Image: Alon Skuy Deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo has called on the Hawks to intervene in rampant looting at Prasa over many years.

The country is South Africa, the state-owned company is the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) and the years are 2009 to 2018.

Billions of rand worth of taxpayers' money are siphoned through irregular award of contracts to companies linked to then chief executive Lucky Montana and his political protectors.

Police cases are opened with Saps. Given the huge amounts involved, these are accordingly transferred to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation - the Hawks.

But to date, there is still nothing to show for it. Not a single warm body is in jail. No one has been ordered to pay back the money.

Among the cases opened with the Hawks is one involving R2.4bn paid to Swifambo Rail Leasing for locomotives that ended up not being used by Prasa as they were too tall for the tracks.

Martha Ngoye, Prasa's former head of legal, risk and compliance, on Tuesday accused the Hawks of playing a merry-go-round with the cases before them.

This was a revelation that did not go down well with commission chair Raymond Zondo.

Ngoye, asked by Zondo what the Hawks had done about cases reported to them, said there had been endless meetings and back-and-forth exchanges of documents between the two parties - with no end in sight.

Zondo immediately instructed the commission's legal and investigation team to summon the Hawks to appear before the commission to account in this regard.

According to Zondo, it was of the utmost importance for the Hawks to move with speed, as the stealing of public money is not merely a civil matter in which it is usually difficult to get the money back, but also a criminal matter for which culprits should be arrested. 

"This is a lot of money from the taxpayers," he said.

"I need to have evidence from the Hawks, with special reference to the Prasa cases, to hear what they have been doing. I need to hear what is going on because there is a lot of taxpayers' money that is involved [in] the crimes that I have been told about.

"I know they are going to come at some stage to talk about a lot of things, but for now I want to hear about the Prasa cases. I want to know what is it that has been done all along. This whole thing must be cleared as to what is it over the years that they have done - and what it is that they have not done and why they have not done it."