Transport minister Dipuo Peters has stepped into the mess at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), possibly blocking CEO Lucky Montana from being fired by the board.
According to several media reports on Sunday (19 July), Peters has ordered a comprehensive report into the transport group.
Specifically, she wants to know what transpired at the company that led to the sudden dismissal of its CEO, Lucky Montana.
The Prasa board, led by chairperson Popo Molefe, announced on Thursday afternoon that Montana had been “released from serving his notice period”.
The group has been hit with several controversies over the past few weeks, amid reports that it had spent R600 million purchasing trains that were not fit for South African railways.
What followed were deeper investigations into the processes to acquire the trains, as well as placing Prasa’s ‘chief engineer’, Dr Daniel Mtimkhulu’s qualifications under scrutiny.
Mthimkhulu has since been suspended from the group, with investigations underway, while question marks now loom over the fate of Montana.
According to the Sunday Independent, City Press and Sunday Times, sources have confirmed that it was Peters who had a direct impact on both Prasa and Montana’s press conferences being shut down on Friday (17 July).
The minister has also reportedly moved to quell the escalating tensions between Montana and chairman Molefe.
According to the Sunday Times, Peters has backtracked on her statements accepting Montana’s resignation, saying that the final decision on whether he stays or goes rests with her.
Responding to reports, Peters’ office said the minister was merely stating the procedure, and that she has no intention of meddling with the board’s decision.