Molefe given deadline to shut down Prasa contracts probe

The transport minister has raised concerns over the scope and specific end objective of the investigation.

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

JOHANNESBURG - Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa's (Prasa) Chairperson Popo Molefe has been given until the end of August to reply to the Transport Minister Dipuo Peters's letter in which she asks him to shut down an ongoing investigation into irregularities at the rail agency.

Law firm, Werksmans has been conducting an independent investigation into irregularities and contracts at Prasa after an audit report and a recommendation by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

Peters has, however, raised concerns about the "endless" investigation which she says appears to be without a clear scope or specific end objective.

In a letter addressed to Molefe, Peters says the investigation is reported to have cost around R80 million which has not been budgeted for and therefore can be regarded as an irregular expenditure.

Peters has asked Molefe to shut down the investigation and submit a detailed report which will then determine any further investigation.

Molefe has been given until the end of the month to respond.

Meanwhile, Molefe says a probe into the parastatal's costs will continue because the board is legally obligated to act with integrity.

The Prasa chairperson says he has responded to the minister where he has also outlined that the Public Protector's recommendations are now binding since the Constitutional Court ruling earlier this year.

"We don't agree with the request of the minister to stop the investigation because it has to do with the observance of the rule of law, the Constitution, in particular Section 217 and the Public Finance Management Act."

The Democratic Alliance's shadow minister of transport Manny de Freitas says the minister cannot shut down an investigation and he will be raising this matter in Parliament.