Transnet throws down the gauntlet
Board chairperson Dr Popo Molefe said yesterday in an interview in the wake of the suspension of four senior executives on Friday that time was running out for anyone at Transnet to declare their involvement to the unnamed bishop or the chairperson, or face the consequences if the company discovered malfeasance on its own.
“That opportunity is fast running out. We have given management personnel or anyone else an opportunity to tell us how they aided corruption at Transnet and how they can help the board to uncover it. We have an independent retired bishop to whom they can disclose their involvement confidentially. Time is running out. That opportunity is slipping away. We will now pursue any lead we get, and if we independently discoverer any malfeasance, we will demonstrate our commitment to ridding this organisation of corruption. That asset (Transnet) will focus on its mandate,” he said.
The four senior executives - Nonkululeko Sishi, the group human resources officer; Mlamuli Buthelezi, the group chief operating officer; Ravi Nair, the chief executive: Transnet Freight Rail; Shulami Qalinge, the chief executive of Transnet National Port Authority - said their continued presence in the workplace had the potential to jeopardise investigations into their alleged misconduct.
Molefe would not divulge the name of the bishop.
Late last year, among the major scalps claimed by the Molefe-led board were Gama and the suspension of former group supply chain officer Edward Thomas, pending investigations into serious allegations of misconduct involving a number of contracts.
Molefe said yesterday that none of the executives at the parastatal had taken the opportunity to contact the retired bishop or himself, but that the clock was ticking.
“One of the things to emerge from the Zondo (deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo) Commission is that corruption has almost become a culture in our organisations.
“It might well be helpful for the state to create a fund and forum for the re-education of our people about the impact of corruption and programmes established by the new DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) Shamila Batohi. We really must face this with resolve,” Molefe said.
Transnet on Friday said it was conducting investigations into allegations of impropriety concerning the role played by some advisers and consultants, including Regiments Capital, Trillian Advisory Services, Trillian Capital Partners and Nkonki Inc, in which Thomas is alleged to have played a role. Thomas, currently group general manager: finance, was informed on Thursday of the company’s intention to suspend him and was invited to make a written representation as to why he should not be suspended.
Transnet said it had considered his representation and felt he did not provide sufficient reasons as to why he should not be placed on suspension.
Early last week, Transnet announced that it would continue with disciplinary action against its group treasurer Phetolo Ramosebudi, who has since resigned.
Ramosebudi was also issued with a notice of intent to suspend him, but opted to render his resignation.
The decision to suspend him comes after an investigation into the company’s procurement of 1064 locomotives in 2014, where Regiments Capital and Trillian acted as transaction advisers.
Transnet has terminated the employment of its chief executive, Siyabonga Gama, and placed on suspension the chief procurement officer Thamsanqa Jiyane and supply chain manager Lindiwe Mdletshe.
In another development, Molefe confirmed yesterday that Transnet has had no legal comebacks yet from the slew of actions against senior executives. “It is their constitutional right to take action against Transnet, but all of them are aware of the extent of investigations. Only Gama (former chief executive) tried that route, unsuccessfully,” he said.