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Prasa parts ways with group CEO Lucky Montana

According to reports Montana’s last day was yesterday and current COO Nathi Khena will take over.

FILE: PRASA group CEO Lucky Montana spoke to EWN about the new locomotives. Picture: Kgothatso Mogale/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) group CEO Lucky Montana has been axed.

A statement from Prasa confirmed Montana's last day was yesterday.

He was due to leave Transnet at the end of November.

Prasa says the current COO Nathi Khena will take over as the acting CEO while the board is in the process of finding a suitable replacement.

The locomotive company says its board resolved that Montana would not be required to work the remainder of his notice period, which commenced on 1 June 2015.

Prasa Chairman Popo Molefe says this development has nothing to do with Montana's defence of a R600 million tender that led to the claims the locomotives he had bought were too tall for the country's railways.

He says the board made this decision because of Montana's behaviour.

"The board had been observing... the group CEO was attacking the board on various platforms."

The board will host a press conference on Friday.

Another executive believed to be relieved of his duties is Moffet Mofokeng, who handled the company's media queries.

In the statement, Prasa says the board has directed Sipho Sithole, who is the Group Chief Strategy Officer, to take over from Mofokeng.

MONTANA'S BEHAVIOUR TO BLAME

Molefe says they've decided Montana should leave the organisation immediately because he hasn't stuck to the conditions of serving out his notice and not because of the current controversy about a Spanish locomotive tender.

Montana vigorously defended the Spanish locomotive tender, despite claims the trains were too tall and that Prasa didn't manage the tender properly.

Molefe says this decision by the board has nothing to do with that saga.

"We are satisfied that matters are now under control and that they will reach consensus in the end."

He says it has everything to do with Montana's public attacks on the board.

"The board concluded that if a man was leaving, why spend time with a man who says he can't work with the board."

Molefe says Montana had promised not to change Prasa's management structure or sign large tenders without the board's approval.

ALL ABOARD

On Monday Prasa welcomed journalists aboard the new trains it purchased from a Spanish manufacturer to prove they complied with standards.

It's been reported that the rail agency's own engineers warned the 13 trains purchased at a cost of R600 million were too tall for local rail lines.

The City Press also reported the trains posed a 'significant safety hazard'.

But the rail agency went ahead with the transaction, despite the manufacturer informing them they could not adjust the height of the trains.

WATCH: Prasa Group CEO insists leaked documents were stolen

At the same time, the Democratic Alliance said it shouldn't be difficult to prove if Prasa's head of engineering does, in fact, have the qualifications he claims to.

Daniel Mtimkulu claims to have obtained an engineering degree from Wits University but the institution has not been able to find any record of him studying there.

The DA's Manny de Freitas said he had written to the transport committee about that issue.