SERIOUS allegations of corruption, tenders benefit facilitation, corporate self-gratification and shifting board room chairs are playing out at the South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) as the entity remains silent on the progress of a forensic investigation it launched last year.
Samsa said in November it had hired independent firm of forensic investigators, Morar Incorporated, to probe allegations of misconduct and whistle-blowing reports.
This as three senior executives were suspended since April last on full pay, while the Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula remains mum.
The three ejected executives, chief executive Sobantu Tilayi, company secretary Moyahabo Raphadu, and chief human capital officer Lesego Mashishi, were placed on precautionary suspension with pay from April 26, 2021 amid allegations of misconduct.
Samsa and the Department of Transport have repeatedly avoided replies to enquiries sent by Business Report about progress reports on the investigation and what timeline to expect an outcome, with the last enquiry sent to Tshegofatso Maake going unanswered two weeks later.
Business Report contacted the suspended executives recently, who said they had still not been been contacted with regard to the probe, despite the appointment of forensic auditors to look into the allegations, which had resulted in their prolonged suspension.
Sources though are pointing to orchestrated moves at both board and executive-level to oust dissenting voices on large scale corruption, and instead to populate both structures with people who would facilitate the dubious transactions at the authority.
“I am in the dark about what is going on there since April. We have been completely blocked out. There is something they want to do there. There are some commercial transactions that are going on, which would not meet approval. I have been in the corporate world for so long, I know there is political protection of some people, some of it from the shareholder,” one of three executives told Business Report.
Department of Transport director, Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane, as acting chief executive of the agency, has reportedly increased her remuneration from R1.2 million to R3m per year.
However, Daily Maverick reported that according to Samsa’s latest annual report, Tilayi earned a basic income of R1.96m last year (total package R3.1m), Raphadu was paid a salary of R1.7m (total package R2.3m), while Mashishi collected R1.4m (total package R2.01m).
Suspicions have been heightened with the inclusion at board and corporate structures of two officials in particular, Lucal Hloudi and Bheka Zulu, who had previously been dismissed from the institution by court sanction, and another dismissed by the Moses Kotane municipalities.
There were also strong suspicions of conflict of interest as some of the current board and executive officials are invested in entities doing business with Samsa, which would also result in kickbacks.
“I have approached the courts to state my case because I was suspended with malicious intent, there was a conspiracy which involved a fake complainant, but I can prove there was collusion between Hloudi, the SA Marine Insurers and an organisation of the disabled,” a suspended official alleged.
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE