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Labour Court battle looming as axed Prasa CEO Kgosie Matthews set to square up to board for fight

Fired Prasa chief executive Kgosie Matthews is taking the agency, its board and Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula at the Labour Court in a bid to interdict the termination of his employment. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Fired Prasa chief executive Kgosie Matthews is taking the agency, its board and Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula at the Labour Court in a bid to interdict the termination of his employment. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Jan 21, 2022

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Johannesburg - Ousted Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) chief executive Kgosie Matthews will square off with the entity, its board and Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula next week over the decision to terminate his employment.

The Labour Court is scheduled to hear arguments in Matthews' urgent application to interdict Prasa from terminating his contract next Thursday.

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The matter was due to be heard by the Labour Court in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, this past Wednesday before it was removed from the roll.

Matthews’s lawyer Peter Harris told Independent Media that the date was moved after an agreement with all parties. He added that the matter was not removed from the roll as a result of a settlement between his client and the agency.

Matthews was fired by the Prasa board last month for failing to disclose his dual citizenship and not obtaining a top secret security clearance from the State Security Agency (SSA).

In court, Matthews has raised his suspicions on the manner the matter of the security clearance was done, saying that when it was declined he was already a Prasa board member on the basis of his position as chief executive.

Matthews launched his urgent application citing Prasa, its board chairperson Leonard Ramatlakane, and Mbalula as respondents a few days after he was dismissed by the agency’s board.

In his application, Matthews sought to interdict pending the final determination of the dispute he has initiated with Prasa.

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“Such determination may either be by way of arbitration, or some other legal proceedings in this or other competent court. The matter is being considered by my legal advisers and they will advise me of the best course to follow,” he said in his court papers.

Matthews complained that in a space of less than 10 days he was charged, suspended, investigated and summarily dismissed.

“My purported dismissal is baseless and I will challenge it in this application. I seek the court’s assistance to preserve the status quo ante pending the determinations of part B (of his application),” he told the Labour Court.

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Mbalula announced Matthews’s appointment nearly a year ago, saying Cabinet approved his becoming the permanent long-term boss since the 2015 departure of Lucky Montana.

Before Matthews, Sibusiso Sithole was permanently appointed for a year in June 2018 but left after just nine months in February the following year.

At the time, Mbalula described Matthews as “a seasoned professional, with a robust understanding of international and domestic business strategy who has operated in dynamic, complex and agile organisations”.

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He said his professional track record of over 30 years showed his focus on corporate governance, transparency and value-based organisations.

Soon after his appointment, it emerged that Matthews, at 64, was too old as Prasa’s internal policies dictated that an employee shall retire on attaining the age of 63. The employee may, on request and with management’s consent, remain in its employ after the age of 63 years on a contract basis, provided that its operational needs require that an employee’s services be retained.

Prasa has indicated that it is vehemently opposing what it described as a “meritless application” and will seek an appropriate cost order against Matthews.

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Political Bureau

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