DAILY MAVERICK WEBINAR
State Capture Report praised for presenting compelling evidence that could lead to prosecutions
Part 2 of the State Capture report puts together evidence for possible prosecutions, said panellists during a Daily Maverick webinar, while praising the details laid out in the report.
The second part of the State Capture report does a “wonderful job” of setting out evidence that could lead to possible prosecutions, said investigative journalist Susan Comrie during a Daily Maverick webinar on Thursday.
Comrie, who works at investigative unit amaBhungane, joined Corruption Watch Director Karam Singh and the host, Daily Maverick Associate Editor Ferial Haffajee, to discuss the release of the report.
The report was released this week and focused on state agencies Denel and Transnet.
Comrie said: “Transnet has really been an interesting one… because of how much money has been taken.”
Investigations by Shadow World’s Paul Holden found that R40,084,201,927 went from Transnet to the Guptas.
Singh said what stood out for him was how appointments were used to subvert boards and leadership. The report showed how when the then public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan refused to reinstate the fired Siyabonga Gama back to Transnet, former president Jacob Zuma replaced her with Malusi Gigaba.
While Gigaba was in office, Gama was reappointed to Transnet. Anoj Singh and Iqbal Sharma — both associates of the Gupta family — were appointed as chief financial executive and board member respectively. Brian Molefe, Gama and Singh were “identified as the primary architects and implementers” of State Capture at Transnet.
Comrie, who was part of the team of investigative journalists working on the #GuptaLeaks, said in reading the timeline of how things unfolded at Transnet, she was “struck by how far back this started”.
She said there was an idea that there was a “sustainable level of corruption” that existed before the Guptas arrived, and that the thinking was “somehow, it’s not so bad if one or two percent went out the back door”.
“Unfortunately, the Guptas came and saw the existing system and just ramped it up to a level that became completely unsustainable,” which started leading to the collapse of the state.
Comrie said that despite working on these stories for years, it was astonishing to “read how deliberate it was”.
“State Capture doesn’t start with one contract, it starts with who is appointed minister, who is appointed CEO of these entities and then it gets rolled down into who gets appointed to these boards — so by the time these contracts start, the whole system is set up.
“It was kind of astonishing to me to understand it again.”
Host Haffajee said there was absolute “brazenness” by Gupta benefactors, who would walk out of the Gupta residence in Saxonwold, Johannesburg, with bags full of money. She cited the case of an unnamed witness (who testified in camera because of safety concerns) who said Gama on one occasion counted out R200 notes from a bag and handed the witness R50,000, then took R1-million and left half of it at his girlfriend’s home.
Comrie said the report showed the “arrogance” of individuals who would do these kinds of transactions in front of bodyguards provided by Transnet. These individuals would leave the Gupta residence and drive straight to the nearby Knox Vault to store their money — in the presence of these state workers.
The third and final part of the report will be released at the end of February and is likely to feature state agencies Eskom and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, as well as the privately owned company Bosasa. DM