Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said serious action will be taken against those behind the ghost employees at PRASA. PHOTO: Department of Transport

PRASA uncovers ghost employees and identity theft among staff

Some PRASA employees had conducted identify theft and masqueraded as other people and managed to earn salaries from the rail agency.


Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said serious action will be taken against those behind the ghost employees at PRASA. PHOTO: Department of Transport

Thousands of staff earning salaries at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) turn out to be ghost employees. Others have been masquerading as someone else or have bogus qualifications.


PRASA initiated Project Ziveze in November last year to ensure that staff who earn salaries from the rail agency are indeed legitimate. The project was launched ten months ago.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula presented on Monday the outcome of the project to date.

He said the first phase of the project required staff members to come forward for physical verification. This meant they could voluntarily present copies of their IDs, qualifications and employee data forms.

PRASA uncovered thousands of ghost employees and those masquerading as staff members. PHOTO: Department of Transport

Those who failed to present themselves had their salaries frozen, Mbalula said.

During this phase, out of the 17 268 recorded staff on PRASA’s payroll, 14 268 came forward for verification.

In the same period, a large 1 159 staff members resigned, said the Minister.

“Failure by 3 000 employees to come forward for physical verification led to suspicions that there could be a number of ghost employees at PRASA.”

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The investigation flagged 2 134 employees which were placed into four different categories. The first was possible ghost employees who could not be physically verified. The second category was identity theft – this meant employees masquerading as somebody else, said Mbalula.

The other two categories included employees with fraudulent qualifications and employees with serious criminal offences.

In urgent attempts to address the findings, PRASA will implement new measures. These include a digital fingerprint and photo ID verification process with the aid of the Department of Home Affairs.

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“Employees who submitted fraudulent qualifications will be served with letters to explain themselves within 48 hours from today [Monday]. Failing which, stricter action will be taken in line with the applicable prescripts,” said Mbalula.

Criminal charges will be laid against those who are found to have committed fraud.

“Through Project Ziveze, we have been able to save PRASA approximately R200 million since the inception of the project in November 2021.”

“This form of corruption cannot be characterised as anything other than stealing from the taxpayer. This is conduct we must all frown upon and encourage law enforcement agencies to act with the necessary speed to unleash the full might of the law on those hell-bent on stealing public funds.”