Daily Maverick 06 June 2019

Nkululeko Poya, the suspended chief executive officer of the Railway Safety Regulator, has resigned. He had been on suspension since November 2017 and under investigation on 14 charges, including gross misconduct, dishonesty and abuse of power.

In the wake of the resignation of NkululekoPoya as chief executive of the Railway Safety Regulator on 6 June, board chair Dr Zethu Qunta said that “after careful consideration of the detrimental impact Mr Poya’s actions had on the Regulator’s reputation and financial position, the Board of the RSR views his resignation as an admission of guilt and in the best interest of the organisation”.

The Railway Safety Regulator is the Department of Transport entity tasked with the issuing of rail safety permits, overseeing safety standards and investigating rail accidents. It monitors the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to ensure the rail network is safe and has the power to suspend Prasa’s safety permit if it does not comply with safety standards – which it had threatened to do in late 2018.

Poya was appointed CEO in October 2011. He was placed on suspension in November 2017 following claims that he had been conducting unauthorised investigations into the RSR board as well as Mail and Guardian journalist Athandiwe Saba. Other claims against him include dereliction of duty, not adhering to the authority of the RSR board and dishonesty.

In 2018, he applied to the Labour Court to have his disciplinary hearing declared invalid and to interdict the RSR from proceeding with disciplinary hearings against him. His court application was dismissed by Judge Connie Prinsloo.

Poya resigned before his disciplinary hearing could continue. Tshepo Kgare is the current acting CEO of the RSR. 

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