The first criminal prosecution in the state capture scandal is likely to relate to the financial looting of Transnet, the board of the state rail freight company said. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA)

Parliament - The first criminal prosecution in the state capture scandal is likely to relate to the financial looting of Transnet, the board of the state rail freight company said on Wednesday.

"The first test case on [the] prosecution of state capture will emanate from Transnet's side," Transnet board member Oupa Motaung told Parliament's portfolio committee on public enterprises.

Motaung said Transnet has seconded a team of board members to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to help it with preparing the case because it had a wealth of forensic evidence accumulated in the course of its own investigations into corruption linked to the state capture scandal.

"We said to them look we have the information because we have done forensic work so that they don't have to invent the wheel."

He added that a number of charge sheets on illicit dealings were "already sitting with the NPA waiting to be validated so that action can happen".

Motaung and Transnet chairman Popo Molefe declined to disclose which contracts they expect to the subject of the first criminal prosecution because it would allow those charged to claim that they were prejudiced in public.

Molefe said he was encouraged by the NPA's apparent appetite to prosecute corruption, evidenced in several arrests last week.

He said Transnet has recovered hundreds of millions that were fleeced from the company through irregular contracts, notably from Regiments Capital, and had an obligation to continue to do so to curb the losses the public purse during the long-running, rent-seeking scandal.

"Money that was taken from treasury of Transnet for services that were never provided but they were paid, so those sorts of money irregularly paid to them, and you are of course aware that we did recover some money from China South Rail, over R618 million. We are still waiting to sort out the VAT related to that.

"We now have to follow the money," he said and singled out billions that flowed to the businesses of Salim Essa, one of the chief lieutenants of the Gupta family at the centre of the scandal.

"A large portion of that came from Transnet, I think R5 billion came from Transnet through China South Rail into China South Rail Hong Kong and into Tequesta for Salim Essa and the Guptas, so we will follow all of that."

Asked what Transnet hopes of recovering more money were, Molefe said some of might be lost forever but Transnet believes its cause was aided by the court order the NPA recently obtained freezing about R1 billion of the Gupta-linked Regiments group's assets.

"We also have civil action out to recover monies against those executives through their gross negligence Transnet lost monies," Molefe added. 

"I think in one instance we are claiming about R189 million, maybe three or four executives involved who were executives of Transnet. From a separate individual we are claiming R11 million."

Transnet announced earlier this month that it has reached a settlement agreement with the Regiments that will see it recover about R180 million in consultancy fees on the contract to buy 1064 locomotives from China South Rail.

The deal has been described by acting Transnet CEO Mohammed Mohamedy as "riddled with irregularities and unlawful agreements".

Molefe said the country deserved better than the ravages of state capture.

"I spent years of my life in the struggle, not to enrich myself but to better the lives of ordinary people. I think our people deserve better and we have to fix this damage that has been done."

African News Agency (ANA)