It has been discovered that the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) has been paying more than R1 million a year for bodyguards to protect axed chief executive officer Collins Letsoalo.
In addition to this, the bodyguards, who were supposed to be appointed only on a temporary basis, were in fact hired permanently and since Letsoalo's axing five months, have been idle at Prasa's headquarters, TimesLive reports.
The guards were hired in 2016, after Letsoalo suspended Prasa head of security Mkhuseli Matakata for refusing to assign guards to him to attend a family function in Limpopo.
Former Prasa chairperson Popo Molefe admitted to giving Letsoalo permission to hire the bodyguards, saying "I was consulted by Letsoalo … I simply said it should be a temporary measure. He had no business to appoint full-time people when he knew that he was seconded [to Prasa] for a limited period."
He expressed shock on hearing that the guards were in fact employed permanently.
"[Their appointments] is rubbish. It was not in the company structure. If there was a threat, they should have taken security from inside the company," Molefe said.
The bodyguards' contracts show that Prasa's human resources head, Pearl Munthali, signed off on the appointments, with an annual salary of R670 120.
Molefe confirmed that Munthali signed off on the bodyguards after being told about threats to Letsoalo.
Letsoalo, who was seconded to Prasa by then Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters, was fired after a board decision in February following his controversial decision to award himself a 350 per cent salary increase.
Letsoalo denied being involved in the appointment of the bodyguards and did not directly answer the question of whether his life was still in danger.
"I was not involved in the appointments. It was done by the head of security with the chairperson (Molefe).
"Why are you asking me that? Why don't you ask Popo Molefe, who signed for their hiring? There's nothing called 'wasteful expenditure'," Letsoalo said.