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Molefe and Others v Minister of Transport and Others (17748/17) [2017] ZAGPPHC 120

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Molefe and Others v Minister of Transport and Others (17748/17) [2017] ZAGPPHC 120

11th April 2017

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[1] To set the scene this matter concerns the decision taken on 8 March 2017 by the Minister of Transport ("the Minister") to dissolve the Board of Control (''the Board") of Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa ("PRASA") by removing the applicants from the said Board. It is submitted by the applicants that while the Minister has the power to remove the directors from the Board, such power is a public power which must be exercised at the very least, in a lawful and rational manner and in accordance with the prescripts of administrative justice. The applicants contend that this obligation arises automatically ex lege and that the Minister is not entitled to remove the directors of the Board of PRASA in an unlawful, irrational, unreasonable or procedurally unfair manner with far reaching consequences for the individuals involved, PRASA and the public.

[2] On the other hand while the Minister admits that in removing a director of the Board she is obliged to act in a lawful and rational manner, she contends, however, that the decision to remove the applicants is of an executive nature and, furthermore, denies that the decision to remove the applicants constitutes an administrative decision.

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[3] Accordingly, it is required of this Court to decide whether the decision to remove the applicants from the Board constitutes an administrative or executive action. Secondly, it is required of .this Court to decide whether in dissolving the PRASA Board or in removing the applicants from the Board of PRASA, the Minister acted lawfully and rationally. It is of supreme importance to point out that the issue to be decided in this matter is not so much whether the Minister had valid grounds to dissolve the Board of PRASA as it is whether she acted rationally and lawfully when she did so.

[4] The applicants are all former directors of the Board of PRASA. The directors who were removed by the decision of the Minister are the first, second, third, fourth, sixth and seventh applicants. For purposes of brevity these applicants may be referred to as "the removed directors".  Although there are ten respondents in this matter the battle raging on in this application involves the applicants on the one side and the first respondent on the other side. The second to tenth respondents have not filed any papers in this matter. In the circumstances I will assume that they are all prepared to accept the outcome of this application. Although the target of this application is the decision of the Minister taken on 8 March 2017 the ultimate decision of this Court may have implications for the second to the tenth respondents.

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