Fri, 10 Apr 2020

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa is adamant that it does not owe a service provider R22m, it is taking the matter to the highest appeals court in the country.

The state passenger rail service on Friday held a press briefing where it provided clarity on several matters, among these relates to reports that its bank account and assets would be attached for failure to pay a service provider Mbita Consulting, for cleaning services.

"Prasa would like to state categorically that we do not owe Mbita Consulting as reported in some sections of the media. As we stand, there is no judgment of R22 million in favour of Mbita against Prasa," the group's administrator Makhosini Mgitywa said.

According to an IOL report on Thursday, the South Gauteng High Court had denied Prasa's appeal against a September 2019 judgment to have its assets attached in order to pay outstanding debt. An attachment is the legal process of seizing assets to pay debts.

Prasa said it had lodged a leave to appeal application with the Supreme Court of Appeal - which suspends this order.

Mgitywa further clarified that the appeal it lost on Wednesday February 19, 2020 was related to an October 8, 2019 order that it pay up R971 098 including interest. "It is now open to Prasa to petition the Supreme Court of Appeal for leave to appeal as we believe that there are strong prospects that another court could come to a different conclusion," Mgitywa said.

"When the court made the order of 8 October 2019, the application before it was for stay in execution. However, the court dealt with the merits of the main application. We believe that this was an error, as these matters must correctly be ventilated during the main application.

"Prasa has filed substantial affidavits setting out its defence against the claims made by Mbita Consulting," he said.

PRASA vs. Siyangena

In another court-related matter, Prasa said that it had paid its attorneys Werksmans to represent it in a matter against security contractor Siyangena Technologies.

Ground Up previously reported that Werksmans had pulled out of representing the state-wned enterprise as it owed the firm over R19m in outstanding fees.

"Prasa has this morning made a payment to its attorneys. We are awaiting proof of payment in this regard which will be sent as soon as it is available.

"Our lawyers have assured us verbally that they will be working over the weekend preparing for Monday's court appearance," Mgitywa said.

In August 2019, Prasa dismissed its group executive of information technology, Chris Mbhatha for his role in illegally awarding a contract to Siyangena Technologies. The company was hired to install automatic speed gates, electronic information boards and surveillance systems. Prasa is now trying to recover approximately R4.5bn paid to Siyangena, Fin24 previously reported.

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