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Prasa investigation uncovered 3,000 ghost workers on full salary: Mbalula

22 March 2022 - 14:38
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula says the 'grand scam' was discovered during an ongoing campaign aimed at uncovering irregularities at Prasa. File photo.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula says the 'grand scam' was discovered during an ongoing campaign aimed at uncovering irregularities at Prasa. File photo.
Image: Supplied

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has revealed the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) has uncovered 3,000 “ghost workers” in its system who were receiving full salaries.

Prasa stopped paying the salaries in December, and no-one has come forward complaining about not being paid, he said.

Mbalula was appearing before parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) on Tuesday after the committee’s oversight visits to Prasa facilities in Gauteng and the Western Cape earlier this year.

He said the “grand scam” was discovered during an ongoing campaign called Operation Ziveze aimed at uncovering irregularities at Prasa.

Mbalula said this meant there was a system of corruption within human resources, and somebody had orchestrated a scam to steal money.

In a normal company you can’t afford to have one ghost worker. We have 3,000.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula

“That’s how broken Prasa is,” he said.

“In a normal company you can’t afford to have one ghost worker. We have 3,000 and since December a stoppage was done on paying those people.”

He could not confirm whether the 3,000 were part of Prasa’s 16,985 strong workforce.

Forensic work was being done to get a more detailed verification of who was paid, including looking at bank accounts through which payments were made, he said.

MPs also heard the entity had a vacancy rate of 19% with a number of critical positions, including that of group chief executive officer (GCEO), occupied by acting incumbents. 

“Among the key targets we had agreed to, following years of haemorrhaging critical engineering and project management capacity, is stabilising the company by filling key vacancies at senior management level,” said Mbalula.

He said the GCEO position became vacant after a board decision to terminate Zolani Matthews’ contract. The board advertised the vacancy this month and is giving priority to filling it.

David Mphelo is acting GCEO.

Among other vacancies at senior management level are those of chief human capital officer, chief procurement officer, Prasa Rail CEO, Prasa corporate real estate solutions CEO, chief audit executive, group chief security officer, safety nominated manager, group company secretary and group CFO.

Mbalula said vacancies for the executive in the office of the GCEO and group executive: legal, risk and compliance were subject to pending legal processes.   

At the end of February, 737 employees were acting in different roles across the group at a cost of R8,843,649, he said.

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