LIVE FEED: State Capture Inquiry - October 21, 2020
Johannesburg - The Zondo will continue to hear Transnet-related evidence on Wednesday morning.
Yousuf Laher, executive manager in Transnet’s finance department of freight rail, is expected to give testimony.
On Tuesday, the commission heard that businessman and Gupta family ally Salim Essa allegedly demanded a stake in Transnet’s R27 billion project meant to increase its capacity to transport goods.
This is according former Hatch managing director of rail Henk Bester. Hatch deals with engineering, project and construction.
Bester testified before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture on Tuesday that Essa informed him alongside his team during a meeting that one of his companies should be included in the deal.
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Bester said Essa told him he needed to include him for R80 million and promised to increase his share of the deal to R350m.
According to Bester, the project was meant to build a manganese line from the Northern Cape to Port Elizabeth to increase capacity to tranport 16 million tons as a surge in demand for manganese was anticipated.
The project was estimated to be around R27bn.
Bester highlighted that Transnet decided to split the project into two phases due to budget constraints. He testified that in two separate meetings, Hatch executives arranged to meet with then-Transnet chief financial officer Anoj Singh. Essa was present, a factor he did not understand, Bester said.
“Essa was controlling Singh, it was very strange,” said Bester. He had asked several times to meet Singh but was unsuccessful until businessman Dave Reddy, whose company DEC Consultants, was among those earmarked to benefit in the manganese expansion project, assisted.
Bester further testified that Essa bragged about his power and that he could do anything.
Essa also bragged that he already knew who would become the next Eskom chief executive in 2014, a year before the appointment was made.
”They had decided Brian Molefe was going to be the CEO of Eskom,” Essa told Bester.
Commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo was left wondering how Essa knew that Molefe would be appointed in April 2015.