TRANSNET chairperson Popo Molefe after testifying. Nhlanhla Phillips African News Agency (ANA)
JOHANNESBURG – Transnet chairperson Popo Molefe yesterday told the state capture commission that the group needed to recover at least R7.2 billion that was siphoned from the company, but warned that a lot of the money had already left the country.

The rail and logistics parastatal also said it was suing former chief executive Siyabonga Gama to the tune of R323 million, comprising R41.4m paid to Gutpta-linked Trillian for work not done, R189m paid to another Gupta-linked firm, Regiment, for work not done, and a further R93m paid in fictitious invoices under his watch.

Transnet also wants Gama predecessor Brian Molefe to pay it back R79m for payments made to Regiments for work not done.

The company's former treasurer, Phetolo Ramosebudi, is also facing a bill of R282.7m from illegal payments to Trillian and Regiment.

Molefe said that China South Rail, which was controversially awarded R54bn to deliver nearly 1 100 locomotives, had already paid back R618m of the R700m that was paid in advance.

Molefe said when the board he leads took over last year it found a “horror show” where governance structures had almost collapsed.

“It was just a matter of time that Transnet became like Eskom. Transnet was on the verge of collapse. People must understand this,” Molefe said.

“It had R125bn in loans and R115bn was with lenders who had signed loan covenants, confirming that if it would have a qualified opinion, it would trigger a cross default.”

Transnet also flagged the 2012 R1.8bn deal to buy certain immoveable property on which the former Durban International Airport was located as a deal that was abused to benefit outside parties.

Transnet clinched the deal to buy the old Durban International Airport site, which it planned to turn into a multibillion-rand dug-out port that was envisaged to create hundreds of direct jobs.

Molefe said Transnet had not derived any financial benefit from its ownership of the asset.

BUSINESS REPORT