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PRASA'S 3000 Ghost Workers on PayRoll

Investigations were conducted by the officials of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) and revealed that a total of Three Thousand workers were illegally being paid their salaries since the year 2020 and were registered as permanent employees in their system. PRASA board members revealed that during a media briefing regarding its long term plans to put an end to corruption which has plagued it over many years. The situation worsened after criminals started destroying the train stations and rail networks when the country went on to lockdown following the pandemic of the Covid19 virus that struck South Africa in March 2020.

Findings of the PRASA Board Members

The chairperson of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa board, Leonard Ramatlakane and member of the board Advocate Smanga Sethene conducted what was called Operation Ziveze (Show Up) on the PRASA employees. Only Fourteen Thousand (14 000) of the Seventeen Thousand (17 000) recorded workforce that the agency had, presented its necessary qualifications and documentation as confirmation of their employment with the agency. A sample with the Department of Home Affairs was also conducted which revealed that at least fifty (50) foreign nationals with illegal South African identification were employed under PRASA. Three Thousand workers could not be accounted for after failing to present qualifications for payments of their salaries and fake identities were used to gain employment.

Process of Consequence Management

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa will undergo a process of consequence management and will further investigate the person or people behind the monies paid to the Three Thousand ghost workers and put an end to corruption once and for all. Charges of contravention of the Public Finance Management Act and contravention of the Supply Chain Management Act will be faced and brought to justice. Workers who have since confirmed their qualifications will as well undergo a criminal vetting system as part of the procedure to verify and ascertain if they have any criminal records under their names. The board member confirmed such as part of the cleaning process in Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) and ending the ongoing corruption scandals that haunted the agency for a number of years.

Transport Minister giving insight into the situation

South Africa's Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula gave an insight into the situation at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa and confirmed the stoppage payment of salaries at the start of the year after none of the said ghost workers came forward. The minister further stated that it is a system of corruption within the human resource management, meaning someone orchestrated a scam to steal money from the organization. The key target is now to stabilize the company by filling up the number of vacant key positions at the senior management, recovery of rail operations in no less than ten corridors while paying attention to operational safety and security. The process has since been made to fill up vacancies of about ten including the CEO, the chief procurement officer, company secretary, and several other executive positions as well as the CEO of PRASA itself.

Costs and losses incurred

The temporary workers at PRASA who were acting in various roles across the PRASA group have pocketed about R8 843 649.77 (South African Currency) in the past month. A percentage of nineteen (19%) which amounts to about 3500 vacancies have since been recorded at PRASA nationally which is by far unacceptably high according to employment statistics in South Africa. The matter is on national radar and progress on lowering the rate to lower levels will be monitored and reported on a quarterly basis.

A new PRASA operating model and organizational design would be implemented in a phased manner starting the next month (April). The vandalised infrastructure however remains a critical challenge in the resumption of computer and long-distance passenger rail services across the country.

The cost to the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa to repair and rehabilitate the vandalised infrastructure is at the tune of about R4 994 674 062.88 (South African Currency) confirmed by the Transport Minister.

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