AN INVESTIGATION into alleged corruption at the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) has already cost R148 million‚ Transport minister Joe Maswanganyi revealed in a written reply to a parliamentary question on Tuesday.
Maswanganyi was referring to the investigation by Werksmans‚ the legal firm following up on the findings of former public protector Thuli Madonsela related to certain Prasa tenders.
The minister was replying to a question by DA transport spokesman Manny de Freitas‚ who wanted to know whether the investigation had been terminated.
De Freitas said in an interview that the investigation was worthwhile and should continue‚ and that the R148 million was a small amount in relation to the billions of rand in procurement irregularities that were being uncovered.
There were rumours‚ De Freitas said‚ that the minister wanted to terminate the Werksmans investigation.
He said the legal firm had to employ a team of specialists‚ such as forensic investigators‚ to comb through more than a billion documents.
In his reply‚ the minister said there was “no record of the minister terminating the services of the law firm that was appointed by the board to investigate the findings of the public protector. However‚ the minister did write a letter to the board to raise concerns about the procurement process followed as well as the long time it is taking to undertake the investigation.
“To date R148m that may have to be disclosed as unauthorised expenditure has already been spent on this investigation‚” Maswanganyi said.
The minister noted that there were a number of investigators and law enforcement agencies‚ including Treasury and the Hawks‚ that were investigating allegations of wrongdoing at Prasa following the report of the public protector‚ entitled Derailed.
“These agencies will continue to do so even if the said law firm’s services were to be terminated by the board‚” he said.