Sat, 15 May 2021

  • Lucky Montana said he found the state capture commission to be biased and to have a predetermined political agenda.
  • Montana said he took issue with evidence and claims made by former Prasa chair Popo Molefe against him.
  • Montana said the gains that Prasa made over the years were currently being reversed.

Former Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) CEO Lucky Montana came out swinging at the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, accusing it of being biased and of using the notion of "state capture" to do harm to South Africa's social fabric.

Montana appeared before the commission on Friday morning to testify, and as the hearing kicked off, the former head of the rail agency stood up and flayed the commission in a strongly worded diatribe.

Montana's tenure at the helm of Prasa ended under a cloud over the reported impropriety of a contract for the procurement of locomotives. However, Montana maintained that he was in the crosshairs of a campaign to destroy his credibility and the Zondo commission was playing into this.

"I find the commission to be biased and to have a predetermined agenda. Let me put on record that I had reservations about this when I received this particular summons. I have been having an ongoing battle with the commission." - Lucky Montana

Montana said he took issue with evidence and claims made by former Prasa chair Popo Molefe against him, saying that he was not readily given permission by the commission to give his side of the story.

"My issues have nothing to do with the evidence of Mr Molefe or anyone. I wrote asking for permission to testify. The commission wrote back to me. They wanted to curtail my evidence. I have watched the commission very closely and have taken issue with the commission," Montana said.

"I think this commission has an important role in our society. The notion of state capture finds resonance in our national sight. That is why we have news everyday in this country. I think our SOEs [state-owned enterprises] have played a major role and are being destroyed today," he said.

Gains being reversed

Montana said the gains that Prasa made in the past over the years were currently being reversed, through the destruction of infrastructure because of the decision to terminate contracts for security services.

"Just under three years, infrastructure has been destroyed to the value of R30 billion. Because we chose to say that security contracts are irregular, so we scrap them. We have chosen to lose R10 in a bid to save R1," Montana said.

Montana also took issue with Werksmans Attorneys, for whom a commission evidence leader wrote an opinion for, saying the there was evidence that the firm resorted to surveillance, adding that his house was broken into, likely to this end.

He said the commission was "highly compromised". He said the commission allowed itself to be used as a political instrument to advance a particular agenda in the climate of South African opinion. He added that his affidavit was not compiled in response to that of Molefe, but that Molefe appeared months after him, while his affidavit was not admitted as evidence.

'Age of madness'

"We live in an age of madness. We will never be able to overcome this if our society continues to be beholden to the forced notion of state capture. The country needs leadership with the courage to make a break with the history of the economy, abandon the notion of state capture and the damage it is doing to our social fabric," he said.

Zondo said the commission should be open to people articulating their concerns and that he was keen to hear all sides of the story before any determination is made. He sought to reassure Montana that there was no predetermined outcome on his innocence or guilt. Zondo said he read Montana's affidavit and the commission needed everyone's cooperation.

The commission's evidence leader said he had never been briefed by Werksmans Attorneys about Montana or Prasa and that he was not conflicted. The commission adjourned for tea.

Source: News24

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