NEWS | CAPE TOWN 

Call for Parliament to remove Deputy Finance Minister Sfiso Buthelezi

UniteBehind publishes report on #PRASALeaks

Photo of UniteBehind panel
The panel at UniteBehind’s press conference, from left to right, Zelda Holtzman, Reverend Alan Storey, Zoliswa Dlamini, Zackie Achmat, and Sharone Daniels. Photo: Aidan Jones
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Zoliswa Dlamini, 56, from Khayelitsha lost her job because train delays often made her late for work.

She said the trains were so full that she often missed her stop at Langa Station and could only get off at Mutual Station. “There is no way to get out as we are stuck together in the train.”

Dlamini was retrenched in October 2013 because delayed trains made her consistently late. “Two warnings led me to be retrenched. Now I am not working and I have nothing,” she said at a press conference held by the UniteBehind Coalition on Wednesday. UniteBehind released its report on the leaked forensic investigations into irregular contracts at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) at the press conference. The reports were commissioned by the National Treasury, but have not been released after almost a year.

GroundUp was provided copies of the reports by UniteBehind, and published them on Wednesday morning. The leaked reports are being called #PRASALeaks. (See Treasury covering up grand-scale corruption at PRASA.)

UniteBehind has calculated that irregular expenditure described in the 193 forensic reports comes to R2.5 billion. “Missing information could have implications for an additional R3.5 billion in irregular expenditure,” its report states.

Speaking of her experience with her former employer, Dlamini said: “When I got to work I had to answer questions about why I was late, and I had to tell him a story that he didn’t understand because he has a car.”

The press conference highlighted the link between the corruption at PRASA and the failing Metrorail system.

Sharone Daniels, 46, of Ocean View, told of children who were late for school because of poor train services and of overcrowding on the trains.

“It has become so bad that we actually start fighting among ourselves on the trains. You are in each other’s face, breathing on each other.”

UniteBehind speakers said they wanted those involved in PRASA corruption to be investigated and prosecuted and their assets seized. They said the voices of people affected by maladministration must be heard.

“We would like Parliament to investigate and remove Sfiso Buthelezi and we are requesting that the Finance Committee and Scopa do that,” said activist Zackie Achmat. “We are also asking the National Prosecuting Authority to ensure asset forfeiture and prosecution of the PRASA board.”

Achmat said the powers of the Auditor-General should be strengthened and that the Public Finance Management Act should make it mandatory for every government department and state entity to put contracts online.

The UniteBehind report was specifically addressed to Scopa and the Parliamentary Committee on Finance. “We don’t have faith in the Transport Committee,” said Achmat.

Commenting on the recent suggestion by the City of Cape Town that it should take over the railway system, Achmat said: “It’s important that the municipality takes it over because it’s affecting people, it’s affecting social life and it’s affecting the economy as well.”

Zelda Holtzman, former Parliamentary Protection Services Head, said: “Often in these stories around state capture, we don’t talk about the people impacted on. It’s not just about figures; there are people behind those numbers.”

UPDATE: Additional information was added to this article after publication.

Letters

Dear Editor

I can relate to Zoliswa Dlaminis story. In 1993, I worked for Sanlam in Belleville and was late several times due to full trains, not stopping in certain stations or being late.
From Gugulethu, I had to change in Mutual, it was trauma. I never told my bosses why I left Sanlam after a few months for a job downtown. The late trains were the main reason. I am surprised it still continues today.
I never want to use our trains. The impact is that I am still sceptical of using the efficient Gautrain.

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