Former Transnet electrical engineer Francis Callard was recalled to the witness stand at the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture being chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo in Parktown, Johannesburg. Picture: Dimpho Maja/African News Agency (ANA)
Johannesburg - Only two of several Transnet bosses - including former chief executive Brian Molefe and former chief financial officer Anoj Singh - have responded to the damning evidence of one of the state-owned logistics company’s retired electrical engineers.

Retired engineer Francis Callard returned to the commission of inquiry probing state capture on Wednesday to respond the entity’s former executive finance manager Yousuf Laher and Yusuf Mohammed, who was general manager in Singh’s office, who both dispute parts of his testimony.

Laher and Mohammed have not applied to cross-examine Callard.

Callard, who gave evidence in May, has implicated 37 individuals, including former board members and other entities but 35 have not responded to the commission’s notices.

Evidence leader Mahlape Sello told the commission headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo that Laher identified five matters in which he took issue with Callard’s testimony.

These include the increase in the costs of 100 locomotives bought from China South Rail (CSR) in 2012, the advanced payments for the 100 and 1064 electric and diesel locomotives, the business case for the acquisition of the 1064 locomotives and negotiation spreadsheets.

In his testimony, Callard said the increase in the estimated total cost of acquiring the 100 locomotives from R3.87billion to R4.8bn was excessive and difficult to justify.

Laher does not deny that the extra R1bn was excessive but claims Molefe and Singh were in charge of the negotiations with CSR.

He told the commission that he undertook a reasonability calculation at Singh’s request and arrived at a price of R41 million for each locomotive but was told was the negotiated price was R44m. Callard has also testified that Mohammed modified the business case which stated the total cost of the 1064 locomotives would be R38.6bn excluding borrowing costs to one indicating it would exclude foreign exchange and hedging.

He said the document was modified on Mohammed’s computer in April 2013 and in his evidence Callard also implicated Transnet’s former chief executive Siyabonga Gama, suspended supply chain manager Lindiwe Mdletshe and head of procurement at Transnet Freight Rail Thamsanqa Jiyane, among others.

Callard, who retired in April 2012 after having worked for Transnet for over four decades but was subsequently contracted for another five years, assisted Mncedisi Ndlovu and Sedumedi Attorneys in their investigations into malfeasance at the state-owned company.

Transnet’s acting governance, risk and compliance manager Helen Walsh also told the commission that Transnet was investigating the payment of millions of rands to Gupta-linked firms Trillian and Regiments Capital dating as far back as 2005.

She said an R11m payment to another Gupta-linked firm for providing transaction advisory services for the acquisition of 1064 locomotives was not paid from the correct cost centre but Transnet allocated payment to another project named Swat1, which she said was not an acronym and just a word that was chosen.

Today Callard will continue giving evidence at the commission, which also expects Major Thabo Ntshisi, who has been implicated in the testimony of witnesses who were involved in the Gupta wedding party aircraft landing at Waterkloof Air Force Base in 2013.

Retired Lieutenant-General Derrick Mgwebi, who investigated the Gupta landing for the SA National Defence Force, has also testified about Ntshisi, who was at the command post during the landing and who allegedly discussed SANDF business with civilians and indirectly asked former chief of state protocol, now ambassador, Bruce Koloane for a job.

Political Bureau