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Minister welcomes Prasa court ruling

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Contracts with its chief finance officer invalid

Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi. Picture: Bongani Shilubane
Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi on Wednesday said he “welcomes” the Pretoria High Court judgment ruling two contracts entered into by Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) with Fenton Gastin, its chief finance officer, were invalid.
The first contract that was found to be invalid was the one entered into when hiring Gastin as chief finance officer. The other invalid contract was a day-to-day contract given to him by Prasa after he had been fired.
During the trial no proof of board approval was forthcoming to support the appointment on a package of R3-million a year. When Gastin was sacked 14 months later he was paid R3.3-million, more than his annual salary, for the 12-month remainder of his contract.
Last week the high court in Pretoria found that two contracts entered into with Gastin were a ploy to defraud Prasa and were ruled as invalid. The court also ordered Gastin to refund Prasa monies earned through the invalid contracts estimated at R8 million.
Reacting to the judgement, Maswanganyi said: “As government, we are a constitutional state, governed by laws, regulations and policies. We have committed ourselves to deal decisively with fraud and corruption, and will do everything in our power to root out these acts of dishonesty and criminality wherever they emerge”.
The minister said as a shareholder, he has the responsibility to ensure that Prasa delivers on its core mandate and that such delivery is underpinned by prudent and good governance principles.
“I will continuously monitor progress and ensure that necessary controls and systems are put in place to promote good governance, because commuters in our country who heavily rely on public transport deserve nothing but the best,” Maswanganyi said.
The minister said as soon as the new Prasa board is appointed he will direct it to probe “perceived corruption”, especially in relation to the Auditor General and Public Protector’s reports.
– African News Agency (ANA)