High court chastises Hawks on behalf of OUTA
On Friday, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) won the right to participate in a legal action to compel two law enforcement agencies to do their jobs and investigate blatant corruption in the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA).
“This, to my mind, constitutes an irresponsible and wasteful type of litigation by an organ of State,” said Judge Davis in Friday’s judgment. “It is to be deplored that organs of State engage in interlocutory skirmishes with each other whilst the main battle is raging around them and they, by their conduct delay any meaningful engagement therein.”
The court awarded punitive costs against the Hawks, calling the unit’s opposition to both PRASA and OUTA unreasonable.
“It is sad that the State entities should be taken to court to do their job. We hope that law enforcement agencies will take heed of this judgment and do their job as expected,” said Stefanie Fick, OUTA’s Head of Legal.
OUTA must now file its founding affidavit in the main application; these papers are ready for filing.
PRASA’s original case was filed in May last year by then PRASA board chairman Popo Molefe, who has been strongly outspoken against massive corruption in PRASA.
OUTA's application to intervene is motivated by the strong public interest in the matter and the billions of rand involved in the alleged corruption. There was also some concern that, as Molefe and his board’s term of office ended months after their application was filed, a new board might drop the action.
The intention is to force the law-enforcement institutions to investigate corruption within PRASA. OUTA believes that this judgment allowing the organisation to intervene will pave the way for the investigation to be completed so that prosecution takes place.
Investigations by the Public Protector and the PRASA board found substantial problems with contracts awarded by then CEO Lucky Montana, who spent close to R5.4 billion of taxpayers’ money from 2009 to 2013 on contracts handed to the Siyangena and Swifambo companies.
A copy of the judgment is here.