Montana tells Zondo that the managers were unruly and defied him

Ex-Prasa boss Lucky Montana defends his axing of executives

03 May 2021 - 13:41
By Siviwe Feketha
Former Prasa CEO Lucky Montana
Image: Esa Alexander Former Prasa CEO Lucky Montana

Former Prasa chief executive Lucky Montana has defended his alleged reign of terror and firing of executives while at the helm of the passenger rail agency, saying they were insubordinate and worked against him.

Montana returned to the stand at the Zondo commission where his firing of group executive for legal Martha Ngoye in 2015 was addressed.

Montana is accused of having led the collapse of corporate governance and maladministration and purged dissenting officials at Prasa during his tenure, leaving the agency in financial trouble.

Ngoye has accused Montana of having pushed her out and other officials who were fighting corruption and wrongdoing at Prasa.

Montana said Ngoye had been on a “warpath”, put him to the test  and had been part of the campaign against him which he said was instigated by former Prasa board chair Popo Molefe. He also claimed that she had dared him to fire her.

“She was completely unruly and she dared me to fire her and I accepted the invitation. I made a decision that here is a person who is an executive, who conducts herself that way,” Montana said.

He said Ngoye and a number of officials had ganged up against him in cahoots with Molefe and that he had to act against some of them.

“It was not this thing that you have this guy who was firing everybody and who was so senseless. I listened to reason and in some instances these people had access to the board and they would lobby board members,” he said.

Montana has accused Ngoye of having irregularly approved a number of contractual payments to companies, including R58m on the SA Fence and Gate matter when she acted as Prasa’s chief executive in December 2014.

He said Molefe had been a “shop steward” of the employees he had suspended or fired and that they had been brought back after he left Prasa.

 “They were all returned on a mass scale and came back and those that remained were in turn suspended. You can see that in an organisation where there is a battle in the leadership, particularly between the chair and the CEO, you have that kind of situation when the organisation is split in-between.”

Montana reiterated his denial that he was responsible for Prasa’s financial woes as there was “no credible evidence” to support the accusations against him.

“I want to hear someone say ‘I gave company X a score of 10 at the instruction of Mr Montana”, but you can’t just say it happened under the tenure of Montana. You are basically throwing my name but not linking me to the crime scene,” he said.

Montana’s testimony continues.