| PRETORIA

Court puts the brakes on R56-million payment to Siyaya

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Head of Prasa’s legal services leads charge against payment

Photo of overcrowded train
Corruption at Prasa has led to the decline of Metrorail’s service. But now Prasa staff are fighting back against a dubious transaction facilitated by Prasa’s board and previous CEO. Photo: Mandla Mnyakama
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The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Friday granted the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) an urgent interdict against a multi-million rand settlement it was ordered to pay to Siyaya DB by 9 April.

Martha Ngoye, Head of Legal at Prasa, filed a founding affidavit on 3 April applying for an urgent interdict against payments the parastatal had been ordered to make by the Gauteng High Court on 9 March.

Judge Ranchod, who presided over Friday’s case, said there were many serious allegations made by the applicant in its heads of argument. He said he was granting the order so that the “various allegations may be properly ventilated”.

Additionally, Ranchod said both parties may approach the deputy judge president to request that the case be expedited.

Ngoye’s affidavit stated that the interdict is the first part of an application to have the court orders rescinded (cancelled). It revealed that the Sheriff removed R56-million from Prasa’s bank account “for pay-out [Siyaya] on Monday, 9 April 2018”.

Ngoye emphasised the urgency of the application in her affidavit by stating that because “Siyaya DB is in liquidation … the applicant (Prasa) has no prospect of being repaid the monies in issue if they are paid out by the Sheriff”.

According to the affidavit, the payments in question were claimed by the Siyaya entities in 2015 and 2016 and subsequently in arbitration until December 2017, when a settlement was awarded to Siyaya DB.

But Ngoye expressed concern about how the settlement came about, claiming proper procedures were not followed. She stated that Prasa’s Legal Department was, in her view, wrongly excluded from the settlement and that on 15 December 2017 Judge Tintswalo Nana Makhubele [then chairperson of the Prasa board] had instructed Prasa’s lawyers to settle the matter.

Business Day reported on Friday that Siyaya Rail, another of the companies in the Siyaya entities, was paid R630-million by Prasa between 2014 and 2017.

On 28 March, Transport Minister Dr Blade Nzimande appointed Xolile George as acting board chairperson following Judge Makhubele’s resignation. In the statement, Nzimande said he “has directed the board to defend all litigations against Prasa”.

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TOPICS:  Metrorail PRASALeaks