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Montana reveals shocking details about Prasa chairman

Lucky Montana says he has text messages which prove Popo Molefe tried to blackmail Daniel Mthimkhulu.

FILE: Axed PRASA group CEO Lucky Montana. Picture: Kgothatso Mogale/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Axed Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) group CEO Lucky Montana has opened several criminal cases, one of them against Chairman Popo Molefe for allegedly trying to blackmail the rail agency's head of engineering.

Montana was told to leave before his notice period by the board of Prasa earlier this month.

At the time, issues were raised about the trains Prasa bought which are allegedly too tall for South Africa's rail lines.

Engineering head Daniel Mthimkhulu was also suspended and now he has resigned for not being able to prove the engineering and PhD qualifications which he claimed he had.

Montana says he has text messages, which prove that Molefe tried to blackmail Mthimkhulu.

"He summoned him to cooperate with him and he states clearly in those [texts] I gave to the media today that say: 'I'll make your situation worse if you don't cooperate with me'. And he specifically says 'I want you to help me nail Montana'… that's what he says."

MONATANA PAYS TRIBUTE TO MTHIMKHULU

On Monday, Montana praised the rail agency's engineering head, saying he brought about so many changes despite not being able to prove his academic qualifications.

Montana said if he was still CEO, he would have handled the situation differently.

"I wouldn't deal with it in the way that it has been dealt with; I think he has rose through the ranks. People may say he mislead [them] and there is a case to be answered in that particular regard, but I'm guided by a completely different set of principles and values."

Monatana said Mthimkhulu is a genius.

"I want to pay tribute to him. I think Daniel Mthimkhulu may not have the qualifications but the guy is a genius. If I was still at Prasa I'd still take corrective action but in a different manner."

APPROVAL TO TEST NEW LOCOMOTIVES

On Wednesday, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters received a progress report from the railway safety regulator regarding the testing of locomotives purchased for local use.

Prasa purchased several locomotives, and in recent weeks it has been criticised because the trains were too high for local railway lines.

While investigating the issue, the regulator has already given a 'no objection' approval for tests to proceed on these trains.

"They have indicated that they have given a 'no objection' stage approval. What this means that Prasa has the authority to proceed with the testing and commissioning phase for a period of six months. It is a normal process that they follow each time that new rail equipment is received," said the Departmental Spokesperson Tiyani Rikhotso.