The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) has welcomed a ruling by the Constitutional Court that dismissed an application brought by Swifambo Rail Leasing, which is in liquidation, for leave to appeal an earlier Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) decision not to reinstate a contract for the supply of Afro4000 locomotives to PRASA.
In July 2017, the South Gauteng High Court ordered the review and setting aside of the contract for the supply of 70 Afro4000 locomotives by Swifambo for PRASA’s long-haul passenger service for R3.5-billion.
After the first of the locomotives were delivered to PRASA, they were found to be too tall to operate on some of the country’s rail lines.
Swifambo took the High Court decision on appeal to the SCA, but was unsuccessful.
PRASA said the Constitutional Court had found that Swifambo’s application for leave to appeal bore “no reasonable prospects of success”.
“PRASA is pleased that its contention of the unlawfulness of this award and the futility of this contract to effectively deal with the operational challenges of PRASA was confirmed by 16 judges up to the apex court,” the company indicated in a statement.
“This leaves Swifambo with no further legal remedies and paves the way for PRASA to recover taxpayer monies paid as a result of an unlawful contract to a company found by the court to have been used as a front,” said PRASA chairperson Khanyisile Kweyama.
Kweyama further emphasised the board’s strong opposition to companies using fronting as a means to access government tenders at PRASA.
“Government policy on black empowerment is meant to create real transformation for the black majority who have been on the fringes of economic benefits. The lengthy but triumphant battle to ensure that black exploitation is reversed is a testament to our commitment to the empowerment of our people.”
PRASA indicated that it would now focus on ensuring that it has locomotives that are suitable for the network and suitable for its operational requirements.