MPs cut short meeting with silent Prasa

Prasa says it'll risk prejudicing cases under investigation by revealing too much in public.

A prototype of Prasa’s new trains being unveiled at Cape Town Station on 1 December 2014. Picture: @AlstomItalia

CAPE TOWN - The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) Board Chairperson Popo Molefe said officials risk prejudicing cases that are still under investigation and before the courts by revealing too much about them in public.

Parliament's Standing Committee on Public Accounts cut short a meeting with Molefe and other Prasa officials yesterday.

Member of Parliament postponed the meeting because they were not satisfied with answers to questions around controversial contracts including the purchase of imported locomotives said to be unsuitable for local rail lines.

Molefe said it would be unwise to reveal too much in public.

"There are those investigations that relate to matters that would require civil action and there are those investigations of a criminal nature and there are other investigations of a nature that relates to fraudulent behaviour."

The meeting comes just three months after the Public Protector released a report into large-scale maladministration at the parastatal, entitled 'Derailed'.

Thuli Madonsela recommended the board take appropriate disciplinary action against certain officials, particularly former CEO Lucky Montana.

Fed up that the committee was not getting concrete answers, African National Congress MP Vincent Smith said they were being led in circles.

"Our role to exercise oversight is being hampered over the ongoing investigations."

Molefe explained why he was thin on detail.

"When you probe deeper into issues that are the subject of the investigations and are before the court, in the public forum of this nature, it is ill-advised to go into details."

The committee has decided to postpone the meeting to next year.

For now, Prasa is expected to compile a list of the various investigations that are underway and how long each is expected to take.