Satawu wants more heads on the block as Transnet Ports boss Pepi Silinga walks the plank

Pepi Silinga, who was previously the CEO of CDC, joined TNPA in October 2020 after being with the CDC for 22 years. SUPPLIED

Pepi Silinga, who was previously the CEO of CDC, joined TNPA in October 2020 after being with the CDC for 22 years. SUPPLIED

Published Jun 24, 2024


THE South African Transport Workers Union (Satawu) has called for deeper investigation into others who may have been involved with the suspended CEO of Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), Pepi Silinga.

This comes after the utility confirmed at the weekend that it had taken disciplinary action against Silinga for appointing his former employer, the Coega Development Corporation (CDC), to erect fences around the ports of Durban, Richards Bay and Saldanha Bay in a tender whose value controversially ballooned from R80 million to over R300m.

Silinga, who was previously the CEO of CDC, joined TNPA in October 2020 after being with the CDC for 22 years.

Satawu, one of the largest workers’ union at Transnet, had already called for Silinga’s outright dismissal when President Cyril Ramaphosa signed a proclamation galvanising the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) into action in January.

Satawu’s spokesperson, Amanda Tshemese, said more than a dismissal was called for at TNPA.

Tshemese said Satawu had met with the Transnet board to share evidence on Silinga’s network of corruption, which would not be divulged until the entity gave its report.

“We gave them (the board) all the evidence that (Silinga), together with his friends, has stolen more than R300m from workers, the public and the poor,” Tshemese said.

“He also appointed his friends and family to management positions within the TNPA with no relevant qualifications and experience. We want them out as well, they must follow their master.

“Pepi Silinga’s case should set an example for anyone who steals from the public that their days are numbers.”

Silinga took a leave of absence in January this year at the height of the investigations.

Transnet has confirmed that Silinga was not the only one facing further investigations as per the conclusion of an agreement with Bowmans Attorneys, whom the entity has appointed to implement the recommendations of the report by Fundudzi Forensic Investigators.

The state-owned logistics firm said after a meeting with Bowmans on Friday, it had agreed to issue disciplinary charges against Silinga.

“On the same day, Transnet also instituted disciplinary charges against managers implicated in the Fundudzi report and other managers at TNPA implicated in acts of impropriety,” it said.

“External independent chairpersons have been appointed to chair all disciplinary proceedings.Transnet will ensure this matter is dealt with swiftly and with the necessary sensitivity.”

The DA representative on public enterprises, Dr Mimmy Gondwe, said at the weekend they looked forward to the final outcome.

Gondwe had urged the Presidency prior to the signing of the proclamation in January to mandate the SIU investigation.

“You will know that in January this year we wrote to President Ramaphosa,” she said.

“We welcome the decision by the board of the TNPA to issue disciplinary charges against its CEO following the conclusion (of an investigation) into the allegations of corruption levelled against him.”

Ramaphosa had indicated to Gondwe in early February that the matter had already been referred to the SIU prior to the correspondence.

“As you are aware, and to put it on record, both the SIU and Transnet have initiated investigations into the reported allegations against the CEO of the Transnet National Port Authority. Take note that the SIU investigation was initiated before the receipt of your letter on this matter,” the president’s communique to Gondwe stated.

TNPA controls and manages the ports of Richards Bay, Durban, Saldanha Bay, Cape Town, Gqeberha, East London, Mossel Bay, and Ngqura in the Eastern Cape.

Silinga in February countered and accused Satawu of trying to pressure him for the awarding of a cargo-handling contract tender at the port of Ngqura to Durban-based Solethu Marine Services, from which the union would benefit financially.

In an internal memo to the Transnet board, Silinga claimed he was approached by Satawu president Ntuthuzelo Mhlubulwana and general secretary Jack Mazibuko last year asking him to explain why he had  cancelled a cargo-handling contract that had been awarded to Durban-based Solethu Marine Services.