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Zondo report names usual suspects as ‘primary archite...

South Africa

DAYS OF ZONDO, PART 2

Commission report names usual suspects as ‘primary architects and implementers of State Capture at Transnet’

Illustrative image//Malusi Gigaba (Photo: Moeletsi Mabe/Sunday Times). Siyabonga Gama (Photo: Gallo Images/Papi Morake). Anoj Singh (Photo: Gallo Images/Luba Lesolle).

In Part 2 of the Zondo report, 506 pages are dedicated to Transnet, describing the capture of the parastatal as having ‘involved a systematic scheme of securing illicit and corrupt influence or control over the decision-making’.

The usual suspects – Malusi Gigaba, Brian Molefe, Siyabonga Gama and Anoj Singh – have been named in the second volume of the State Capture Commission’s report. 

The second part of the report, which was released to the public on Tuesday, focuses on two volumes – Denel and Transnet. Transnet has been one of the biggest sites of State Capture in the country – not only by the Guptas, but by South Africans who enabled the notorious family. According to Shadow World Investigations director Paul Holden, who led evidence at the commission in June 2021, about R40-billion (R40,084,201,927) had been lost to State Capture at Transnet – about 81.59% of all money lost to the notorious family. 

Read in Daily Maverick: Top 10 sites of State Capture: What the Guptas really cost our country

In this report the commission focuses on the enablers of State Capture at Transnet – former public enterprises minister Gigaba, finance chief Singh, acting CEO Gama and CEO Molefe – with Molefe, Singh and Gama “identified as the primary architects and implementers of State Capture at Transnet”. 

Read the history of Molefe and Transnet in Daily Maverick here. 

Malusi Gigaba

In November 2010, Gigaba was appointed public enterprises minister after a fallout between President Jacob Zuma and then minister Barbara Hogan after she refused to hire Gama back to Transnet after his initial dismissal. Gigaba remained minister until May 2014, during which time the doomed 1,064 locomotives deal went through. 

Gigaba was pointed out in the report for being involved in the “appointment of Mr Molefe and Mr Singh as directors of Transnet, and in the reinstatement of Mr Gama as the CEO of Transnet Freight Rail”. The commission wrote this would allow Gupta ally Iqbal Sharma to become chair of the agency’s Board Acquisitions and Disposals Committee (BADC). “These appointments were followed by the award of significant contracts that benefited the Gupta enterprise,” the report read. 

Gigaba’s visits to the Gupta home in Saxonwold were confirmed by the report. These visits were not only discussed by unnamed witnesses testifying in camera, but by Gigaba’s estranged wife, Nomachule “Norma” Mngoma (Gigaba)

Gigaba was also implicated in the appointment of Sharma as a board member at Transnet, and oversaw the appointment of Molefe as group CEO despite another candidate scoring higher. Gigaba would also testify that President Jacob Zuma had not instructed him to reinstate Gama at the agency, despite earlier testimony from Hogan that Zuma instructed her to reinstate Gama at the parastatal. 

Siyabonga Gama

Transnet Freight Rail CEO Gama was dismissed from Transnet in 2010 over awarding of irregular contracts, but was back by February 2011

Gama returned to Transnet Freight Rail in April 2011 as its CEO. The report reads: “Around about this time, Mr Gigaba held a meeting with Mr Gama with a view to ensuring that he would support Mr [Brian] Molefe as the new GCEO.” Gama was reinstated and this operated with “full retrospective effect without any loss of remuneration and benefits (totalling some R13-million); three costs payments were made to him (totalling in excess of R4-million)”. A six-month final written warning issued to him had expired before he returned to work. Gama was appointed acting CEO of Transnet in April 2015 when Molefe was seconded to Eskom as its acting CEO. On 12 March 2016, Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown appointed Gama as the agency’s group CEO for the duration of May 2016 until April 2021. 

Gama had evidence led against him by witnesses testifying in camera on orders of commission chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. 

Gama, they said, was dropped off at the Gupta family home where he saw Brian Molefe and Thamsanqa Jiyane, a former Transnet Freight Rail chief procurement officer, as well as cash exchanged in the boots of cars. The relationship between Gama and the witness soured when he accused the latter of witchcraft. 

Read in Daily Maverick: Gigaba, Molefe, Gama, Pita and Singh were leaving Gupta house with bags of money, say witnesses

The report also confirmed that Gigaba held influence over Gama, to the point where Gigaba sent the CV of his sister, Gugulethu Gigaba, via an intermediary. She was then appointed at Transnet Freight Rail in February 2017. Gama and Gigaba denied this. 

After a new board appointment in September 2018, Gama was dismissed as  group CEO and removed from the Transnet board because of “serious violations of his financial procurement and fiduciary responsibilities and the board having lost trust and confidence in his ability to lead Transnet”, according to the report. 

Anoj Singh 

Singh was chief financial officer at Transnet from 2011 until 2015, when he was seconded to another struggling state agency, Eskom. 

He was appointed Transnet group CFO on 1 July 2012. About his relationship with the Guptas and particularly visits to their residence, the report states: “By his own admission, Mr Singh visited the Saxonwold residence at least 12 times in four years for religious or cultural functions only”. Testimony from an unnamed witness put Singh at the Gupta residence at least 10 times and Singh would normally carry a bag. 

In his testimony before the commission in June 2021, Singh denied he signed off on payments towards Gama’s legal fees during his disciplinary proceedings. He also denied the Guptas and their lieutenant, Salim Essa, paid for his trips to Dubai, despite evidence from a travel agent. The Dubai visits coincided with those of the Guptas and on some occasions they stayed at the same hotel. 

Singh was also at the infamous Gupta wedding and his partner would be employed at Transnet, before moving to the Guptas’ Sahara Computers empire. The report states that Singh denied asking the witness to take him to Knox Vaults after his visits to the Gupta residence, but admitted he went to Sahara Computers, where his partner worked, to fetch her. 

Singh was a chartered accountant by trade until 2020 when an oversight body, the SA Institute of Chartered Accountants, found him guilty of 12 out of 18 charges of misconduct and revoked his membership. Singh is no longer a chartered accountant since only institute members may use the term. 

Recommendations

One of the significant recommendations in the report is that “law enforcement agencies conduct further investigations as may be necessary”, with a view of possible prosecution against Molefe, Singh, Gama, Transnet CFO Garry Pita and Jiyane on charges of corruption and racketeering, in relation to “cash payments allegedly received by them during visits to the Gupta compound in Saxonwold in the period 2010-2018”. 

The report also recommended law enforcement agencies conduct further investigations as may be necessary with a view to the possible prosecution of Molefe and Singh for corruption relating to cash payments they allegedly received at Three Rivers Lodge in Vereeniging from “unidentified Chinese men” in July 2014. DM

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