MEDIA STATEMENT: #UniteBehind welcomes announcement of new PRASA board as a victory for commuters

Dr Bonginkosi Blade Nzimande, Minister of Transport has appointed a new Board of Control for the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA). The new Board of Control under the leadership Ms Khanyisile Kweyama includes people who understand efficient, effective, sound financial management and ethical governance. It also includes people with an understanding of major engineering needs and with experience of major state capital investment projects. #UniteBehind welcomes this development as the first crucial steps to rebuild the rail agency.

Regrettably, the previous Interim Board deepened the grave instability at PRASA by facilitating exit looting and burying its head in the sand as train line after line was shut down or became dysfunctional. These are the reasons that #UniteBehind conducted a mass campaign against the previous Board under Justice Makhubele and then Minister Joe Maswanganyi.

Ms Kweyama and her fellow Board members face one of the most difficult tasks that is to win the trust of about two million rail commuters, their families, employers and places of learning. Users of all forms of public transport especially taxis and buses suffer enormously because of a dysfunctional PRASA and their confidence is equally important. The new Board also has to display unyielding honesty to win public confidence in its fight against corruption and show its commitment to supporting ethical public service.


#UniteBehind will ask for a meeting with the new PRASA Board and its Executive Management to establish common ground. We believe that our priorities and desires are the same. Priorities for a new PRASA must include dismantling the remains of the criminal network that captured the rail agency and prosecuting every existing case of corruption diligently and without delay while recovering as much of the nearly R24 billion stolen. We welcome the steps taken to suspend the Acting PRASA Rail CEO, Mthuthuzeli Swartz under investigation for the theft of rail lines, corruption, sexual harassment, nepotism, victimisation and intimidation.

At the same time as dealing with corruption, addressing dangers to commuter safety from overcrowded trains, stations and criminals must be prioritised. Train delays, cancellations and other technical failures makes the daily lives of the commuting community a nightmare. Prioritising commuter safety requires an overhaul of PRASA safety and security plans and capacity. The provision of a reliable train service requires the rapid rebuilding of leadership, engineering and procurement capacity at PRASA.

We remain in court against PRASA’s previous Board and Minister to overturn its unlawful appointment and decisions. We stand side by side with PRASA in the courts and on the streets against the corrupt networks of Roy Moodley and Makhensa Mabunda by holding their companies Siyangena and the Siyaya group accountable.

Trains are the most affordable form of public transport, especially for the working class. It is vital that we have a safe, reliable and affordable trains system functioning again for all working people and especially vulnerable commuters such as women, children, people with disabilities and the elderly. A decent rail system is necessary to overcome apartheid geography and spatial violence. We wish the new PRASA Board strength, courage and fortuity in one of the most difficult tasks, that is, to #FixOurTrains.

The new board members are:

Ms Khanyisile Kweyama – Chairperson
Mr Sango Ntsaluba
Mr Louis Wessie
Ms Jenny Schreiner
Mr Nazir Alli
Ms Doris Tshepe
Ms Mashila Matlala

For more information or comment contact Organiser Zukie Vuka 0813693753 or Media and Communications Officer Matthew Hirsch 0832904145

#UniteBehind is an association of people’s movements joined by legal, policy and research organisations working for a just and equal society where the people share in the country’s wealth and our environment is protected for future generations.