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Lucky Montana wants to expose Prasa 'mafia'

Mar 09 2017 21:46
Adiel Ismail

Cape Town - Former Prasa CEO Lucky Montana believes the behaviour of the entity's board under the leadership of Popo Molefe can be likened to the "mafia".

Montana hit out at Molefe in an application seeking to assist the court in a case brought by Prasa against Swifambo Rail Leasing relating to a R3.5bn contract.

"The review application against Swifambo is premature," he stated in an 90-page affidavit. "I knew that the knives were out for me and decided to step down from my position."

Montana added that the Molefe has a "vendetta" against him and is taking a cheap shot by alleging corruption against him without joining him to the proceedings.

READ: Prasa alleges tender rigging in court filing

"[T]he Applicant is using this Court as a podium to insult, tarnish and defame my good name. This I submit is a blatant disregard for the law and constitutes an abuse of process."

The Prasa board asked the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg to review and cancel a R3.5bn contract awarded to Swifambo in March 2013 to supply the company with locomotives made by Vossloh Espana SA.

Prasa instituted civil claims against Swifambo seeking R2.6bn, however the firm has since declared bankruptcy.

Swifambo won a R3.5bn contract in 2012 to provide 70 new locomotives, which it bought from Spanish manufacturer Vossloh Espana. It was then revealed that the Afro 4000 locomotives were too tall for South Africa's rail network.

READ: Safety body releases report on Prasa’s Afro 4000 locomotives

Journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh first broke the story in July 2015 that the agency ignored warnings from engineers that the locomotives were too high for local railways and could damage overhead cables.

Former public protector Thuli Madonsela released a report, Derailed, which found evidence of widespread maladministration and impropriety in the awarding of tenders worth R2.8bn.

The Prasa board launched an independent investigation into the allegations, including the procurement of the Afro 4000 locomotives.

READ: Prasa board 'shocked' by public protector's report

"In his founding affidavit, Mr Molefe attacks my personal integrity and advanced numerous false allegations against me," Montana said in his affidavit.  

"Key, among these, is that the locomotive tender was rigged in favour of Swifambo and that I was the central person behind such unlawful conduct. Mr Molefe further alleges that I, in my capacity as GCEO of Prasa, did not have the authority to enter into a contract with Swifambo."

Montana explained that the board of Prasa approved in July 2012 the award to Swifambo at the recommendation of its finance, capital investment and procurement (FCIP) committee.

Board authorised tender talks

He said the board authorised him in my capacity as the CEO to finalise the Swifambo contract.

"As a direct result of the Board approval, Prasa and Swifambo entered into a Sale and Purchase Agreement, which Prasa is irrationally seeking the Court to declare as unlawful and an Order setting aside the contract with Swifambo," noted Montana.

"However, Prasa and Mr Molefe realise that they could not cancel the contract based on (1) Claims of possible default on the part of Swifambo as provided for in the Contract because this could not be substantiated, and (2) Prasa seeks to avoid dispute-resolution mechanisms provided for in the Contract because this will simply reinforce the Contract between itself and Swifambo.

"Instead, Prasa is attempting to use other tricks in the book, including scurrilous claims the bid was rigged by me in favour of Swifambo, as a justification to cancel the contract with Swifambo. But a careful look at the reasons advanced by Prasa proves that these are simply false, invalid and totally irrational."

'Unlawful intelligence'

Montana further claims that he has been the subject of an unlawful intelligence operation which is violating his rights. He alleged that Prasa has been working with a number of companies and individuals in conducting an unlawful investigation against him.

According to him, the companies involved are Werkmans Attorneys, Basileus Consilium Professional Services (BCPS), Criwe Howard Forensics, Ngubane and Company, and private investigators Paul O'Sullivan and Dion Pienaar.

"These companies and individuals were appointed under the pretext that they are conducting a forensic investigation as part of the remedial actions of the Public Protector, when in fact, they are running a rogue intelligence operation," said Montana.

"Since July 2015, I have been subjected to this intensive campaign by a gang of criminals who had arrogated to themselves key functions of the State."

Montana also said the appointment of Molefe and directors Willem Steenkamp, Zodwa Manase and T Pitsana were not nominated and selected from a list of candidates nominated through a public process.

"Instead they were appointed to the Board and Mr Molefe specifically as chairman of the board of Prasa solely because he is the personal friend of the Minister of Transport."

Montana said that his legal representatives addressed correspondence to Prasa and Swifambo advising them of his intention to intervene as an interested party in the review application.

He said Prasa, through their attorneys, expressed dissatisfaction, while Swifambo responded favourably.

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