Former PRASA acting CEO charged with fraud, money laundering and theft
“He is simply dishonest and a law unto himself” chair of disciplinary hearing says about Mthura Swartz
Former acting CEO of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) Rail, Mthuthuzeli “Mthura” Swartz, made a brief appearance in the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crime Court on Tuesday.
Swartz faces an array of charges including fraud, money laundering and theft of over R1.5 million.
National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesperson, Tshepo Ndwalaza, said that Swartz had been released on R2,000 bail. He told GroundUp that some of the charges were linked to the theft of railway lines and sleepers in the Eastern Cape in 2013.
The case was postponed to 27 February.
Swartz has held numerous positions at the rail agency including Western Cape Regional Manager and, more recently, Executive Manager for Mainline Passenger Services, and acting CEO of PRASA Rail.
In January 2018, #UniteBehind demanded PRASA remove Swartz immediately. At the time, he was still under investigation by the office of the Public Protector and the police.
Swartz was removed as acting CEO in April 2018. He was reverted back to his role at Mainline.
On Wednesday, PRASA spokesperson Nana Zenani said Swartz was dismissed on 8 November 2018, following a disciplinary hearing. “Fourteen charges were brought against [Swartz] including misconduct, abuse of power/processes, victimisation, fruitless and wasteful expenditure, conflict of interest, dishonesty, and derogatory comments against PRASA,” she said.
In a ruling sent to GroundUp, Theo Mokhatla who chaired Swartz’s disciplinary enquiry, concluded that “[Mr Swartz] blatantly undermined the authority of the Board and PRASA management …. He abused the recruitment and disciplinary processes of the employer to victimise, harass and make employment for those who did not agree with him intolerable.”
“He is simply dishonest and a law unto himself. No employer can be expected to keep such an employee in its employ,” Mokhatla said.
#UniteBehind has welcomed the case against Swartz, whom the coalition believes played a key role in corruption at the rail agency. “We trust that this will be followed by more arrests of those that have brought PRASA to its knees.”
In a statement, the coalition added: “The NPA and the Hawks must act on the clear evidence they have from former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s ‘Derailed’ report, and other reports into corruption at PRASA.”
#UniteBehind said corruption and state capture were the driving factors that led to the collapse of the railway systems which thousands of commuters rely on daily.
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