Hawks roped in to investigate Prasa

AXED Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) lead engineer Daniel Mthimkhulu, who was exposed as a CV cheat, also faked an offer letter from a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn and duped the parastatal into more than doubling his salary.

The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation — also known as the Hawks — have confirmed being roped in to several investigations at Prasa, the second state entity that has been wracked by boardroom turmoil.

The unit has also been called in at South African Airways.

In court papers, Prasa chairman Popo Molefe accuses Mr Mthimkhulu of having forged an offer of employment letter from German rail company Deutsche Bahn’s subsidiary DB Schenker to get the parastatal to hike his annual salary from R1.15m to R2.8m.

“As a direct result of the presentation of the letter of employment, Prasa made a counteroffer to Mthimkhulu,” Mr Molefe says in an affidavit filed in a bid to recoup R20m in salaries and bonuses Prasa paid Mr Mthimkhulu.

In an e-mail included in papers filed by Mr Molefe to the High Court in Johannesburg, DB Schenker confirmed that the letterheads and signatures on the document submitted to Prasa by Mr Mthimkhulu had been forged.

The company said it did not know Mr Mthimkhulu.

Mr Mthimkhulu did not respond to repeated calls for comment.

Prasa spokesman Victor Dlamini confirmed that the company had lodged a formal complaint against Mr Mthimkhulu.

Hawks spokesman Hangwani Mulaudzi would not give details on the content or progress of the investigations at Prasa.

“We have several cases … and the dockets are with a special prosecutor,” said Brigadier Mulaudzi.

Last month, it was reported that the Hawks were continuing with a criminal investigation into former Prasa CEO Lucky Montana and Mr Mthimkhulu for allegedly rigging a R5bn tender for locomotives that the parastatal no longer wants.

But Mr Montana said this week he was not being investigated and that Prasa had hired private companies to probe him in an “illegal intelligence investigation”.

He said he was under “massive surveillance” and had laid charges against a security company at Brooklyn police station.

“(Prasa) is trying to convert that investigation into a Hawks investigation, but it is just illegal and unlawful,” said Mr Montana.

Last month, Prasa asked the high court to set aside the R5bn locomotive contract with manufacturer Vossloh España, through empowerment company Swifambo Rail Leasing.

Prasa wants the contract cancelled because of findings of fraud, maladministration and irregularities in the awarding of the tender.

It has also initiated legal proceedings to recover R20m in salary and bonuses paid to Mr Mthimkhulu, who drafted the specification for the locomotives tender.

In an affidavit submitted as part of the court application, Mr Molefe said that in July 2010, Mr Mthimkhulu claimed to have a doctorate from Technische Universität München in Germany. In the same month, he presented Prasa with the letter of an offer of employment from DB Schenker.

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