Parliament accused of failing to investigate alleged capture of Alexkor mine, inquiry hears
Johannesburg – MPs have been accused of allegedly failing to investigate numerous state capture complaints relating to state-owned diamond miner Alexkor Mine – despite receiving written submissions, including representations, to Parliament’s portfolio committees.
This was the shocking testimony of Gavin Craythorne of the Equitable Access Campaign during his testimony before the State Capture Commission of Inquiry on Monday.
Craythorne told the commission that he became aware of the planned capture through a “hitch-hiker” (whistleblower).
“The hitch-hiker asked whether I knew the identities of the new owners of Alexkor Mine. I said no. I was surprised about it. He gave a QuestCo document. It was authored by Trans Hex, De Beers, Alexkor board members and the Richtersveld Communal Property Association...They wanted to dispose off the Alexkor marine diamond assets and diversify it to coal,” Craythorne said
It is thought that then minister of state-owned enterprises Malusi Gigaba had since his appointment started propagating the diversification of Alexkor Mine into the coal sector in Mpumalanga and Gauteng.
According to Craythorne, Gigaba and the Alexkor Mine bosses expressed mixed feelings about the future of Alexkor, saying the former minister claimed that Alexkor would retain its role in the diamond industry but would only venture into coal, but said mine bosses sang a different tune.
“The mine bosses, particularly Alexkor Mine board chairperson Mervyn Carstens, had on numerous occasions told Parliament that in the next five to 10 years there would not be any diamonds to mine at Alexkor. They’ve misled Parliament. Alexkor Mine had in the past 100 years of existence only mined 10% of the mining assets.
’’This was due to the lack of technology. Since the evolution of technology, more diamonds could be mined. Alexkor Mine is still a gem of diamonds in the world. In fact the entire West Coast, including Namibia,” Craythorne said.
According to him, the diversification of Alexkor was to allow Trans Hex and De Beers to take control of the affairs of Alexkor, which would have excluded the residents of Alexander Bay and Richtersveld.
“I made reports to Parliament about it and they did nothing. I wrote letters to every portfolio committee in Parliament and personally delivered them. I notified them about the planned capture of Alexkor. Most of them ignore me.
“If Parliament had done its job, I would not be sitting here,” Craythorne said
Earlier, the commission heard how Alexkor Mines bosses allegedly gave a Gupta-linked company – Scarlet Sky Investment– a tender to sell diamonds. According to evidence, Scarlet Sky did not have a licence to sell diamonds, but some of the board members approved the deal.
“This was despite the fact that Ganero had scored them zero for not having a track record in the diamond industry, but the Bid Adjudication Committee altered that and gave them a score rating of 5 over 10,” Craythorne said.
Alexkor Mine-related testimonies are expected to resume next month.