Pretoria - Former Transnet board member Seth Radebe turned to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, in an urgent bid to challenge his dismissal by Public Enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan in May this year.
He also asked for the removal of the new Transnet board on Monday.
Radebe accused Gordhan of racially discriminating against him when he was ousted. He said Gordhan chose to fire the entire board, expect Arlana Kinley, who was appointed at the same time as him.
Radebe said Kinley, a member of the audit committee is white and she was never even asked to make representations as to why she should not be axed.
He asked the court to find that Gordhan’s conduct in firing him amounted to unfair discrimination and that it was thus unconstitutional and invalid.
Gordhan, on the other hand, said he was within his right to fire Radebe as the latter “had not complied with his fiduciary duties towards Transnet.”
He said there was “wholesale looting” at Transnet, in referring to the controversial procurement of 1 064 locomotives, at a cost of R54.5-billion. It was claimed that Gupta-linked company Tegeta received R5-million in kickbacks. He said Radebe did nothing to address these and other related issues.
It was argued on behalf of Gordhan that as the minister, he had a duty to ensure that “more money did not go down the drain.” He said R17.4-billion belonging to the taxpayer were already wasted and the time had come to ensure that no more was wasted.
Gordhan’s advocate, Nazeer Cassim SC, told Judge Hans Fabricius: “The allegations of racism are unfounded. It is a cowardly attack on a minister determined to deal with corruption decisively in an area where others are supine.”
Judge Fabricius questioned Radebe’s advocate, Dali Mpofu, as to why Gordhan, given his background and history, would suddenly at his age, fire Radebe on the basis of race.
Mpofu responded that it was irrelevant what the motive was. He also complained that Gordhan had “bullied” Radebe in the corridors of Parliament by shouting at him as if he was a child.
“Whatever frustrations the minister had about state capture, he had no right to shout and scream at him as if he was a child.”
Regarding Gordhan’s claims that Radebe did not act against the looting of the coffers, Mpofu said the report by law firm Werksmans into the matter, was inconclusive and incomplete.
He argued that Radebe was only four months on the board when he was ousted, when Gordhan, as “a new broom came in to clean up.” Mpofu said while this was good and well, it should not be tainted by unlawfulness.