Johannesburg - Transnet has been made aware of an alleged smear campaign launched in an attempt to "discredit the ongoing clean-up of corrupt activities" at the state-owned company, Transnet Chairperson Popo Molefe said on Tuesday.
“These attempts to smear my character follow a similar pattern to the one pursued when I was chairman of [the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa] Prasa – all of which turned out to have no substance and did nothing to deter me from completing a massive clean-out of corrupt activity," Molefe said in a statement.
“Now, it seems, when the Transnet board is having similar success in cleaning up Transnet, baseless and defamatory allegations are floated by those clearly involved in a fight-back against state capture. We can expect similar attacks of this nature going forward, given the environment in which we are working.
“They are unsubstantiated and unfounded allegations and should be treated with extreme circumspection. I reject them with the contempt they deserve – and, if published, they will result in legal action.”
Molefe said the smear campaign hinged on a "supposed conflict of interest" with the legal firm that is assisting Transnet with forensic investigations, prosecutions and recovery of monies.
In a statement, Molefe said the law firm, MNS, was one of many corporates that sponsored a golf day run by the Popo Molefe Foundation to raise funds for disadvantaged young South Africans.
"There is absolutely no conflict of interest in this. MNS publicly declared its support for the event and announced it in line with its corporate social investment programme. Its support is listed on the Popo Molefe Foundation’s website, along with other supporters," he said.
In the statement, he placed on the record that MNS was appointed by Transnet in 2017, while he was only appointed as in May 2018, adding that this made the suggestion of an untoward motive "completely ridiculous".
Molefe said that those behind the alleged smear campaign also tried to suggest that the board was directly involved in managing the MNS contract. Refuting this, he said that it was the legal team’s work while invoicing and payment was handled by Transnet management.
"It is deeply irresponsible, yet not surprising, that these insinuations will be put into the public domain in a bid to cast aspersions on the leadership of Transnet, which has taken firm action against those involved in state capture. These typically involve allegations of bribery and/or corruption, and are completely false," the statement read.
"Clearly, there is a broader “fight back” campaign underway by those who have been unseated by the revelations of state capture at the Zondo Commission, where MNS’ work formed the basis for four weeks of disclosure in relation to the state capture project."
Transnet put on record that it had no involvement in the affairs of the Popo Molefe Foundation, saying that the foundation was above board, had been declared as required, and there were no conflicts in its operation.
"The Foundation has been doing charitable work for more than 20 years, during which a lot of young people acquired access to education they would otherwise have been denied. It is registered with the Department of Social Development and its finances are audited on an annual basis," Molefe said.
“The beneficiaries of this Foundation do not include the Molefe family – it is purely targeted at children from disadvantaged points – and it is an insult to the Foundation and all its beneficiaries to suggest there has been any impropriety.”