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Prasa to verify qualifications of all employees

Board chairperson Popo Molefe says they will start with a qualifications audit immediately.

FILE: A screengrab picture of Prasa chairman, Popo Molefe.

JOHANNESBURG - The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) says it will be verifying the qualifications of all employees as part of its strategy to "clean up" the company.

Board chairperson Popo Molefe held a briefing in Pretoria on Thursday about the action that will be taken following the public protector's report.

Last week, Advocate Thuli Madonsela released her findings, showing widespread maladministration and corruption in the awarding of tenders at Prasa, many involving former CEO Lucky Montana.

Molefe says they will start with a qualifications audit immediately.

"It is expected that as people get employed that offers would have been preceded by a process of verification. We don't know what happened, but we think that going forward this is what we are going to do."

Prasa's engineering head Daniel Mthimkhulu was dismissed following an investigation into his academic qualifications.

This raised serious concerns about who is running the rail agency and whether those appointed to managerial positions are qualified.

At the same time, Prasa will take legal action against those implicated in the public protector's report but Molefe says they're not naming individuals at this stage because each case will be dealt with according to its merits.

LISTEN: Former Prasa group CEO Lucky Montana says findings in the Public Protector's report are untrue and he will take the matter to a court of law for review.

Meanwhile, Prasa has requested a chief procurement officer from treasury to be seconded to the rail agency while it restructures that department.

Molefe says they are taking the necessary measures to implement change.

"The board directed management to strengthen internal controls, overhaul the supply chain management structures and to this extent Prasa has requested a chief procurement officer at national treasury to second to it."

Molefe says tenders that have been awarded irregularly will be considered individually in order to minimise the impact on all stakeholders.

He says an internal audit into contracts from April 2014 has already been implemented.

With regards to contracts that are still in place and may have been awarded irregularly Molefe says this will be considered case by case.

"Let's take the example of the Sassa case, the contract is illegal, but those receiving social grant will suffer if it was terminated immediately. It sets a very good precedent for us."

MADONSELA CALLS FOR A FORENSIC PROBE

Last month, Madonsela called for a forensic investigation into all Prasa's contracts over R10 million over the past three years.

She said there was a lack of information and assistance from the board, and many of her findings were inconclusive, therefore a second report will be released.

Madonsela highlighted a number of tenders worth almost R3 billion which were awarded irregularly.

In her report, titled 'Derailed', the public protector raised serious concerns about financial mismanagement, and a culture that goes against Prasa's own policies.

She recommended that the board commission National Treasury for a forensics investigation.

"We have worked with Treasury before and they did a proper forensic; not something that calls itself a forensic and it's not a forensic. We are hoping the same will happen. "

Madonsela also said she believed Prasa could have lost millions in avoidable expenditure for failing to test the market and managing contracts.

To read excerpts of Madonsela's report click here.

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