Zondo questions Transnet’s decision to pay Siyabonga Gama’s legal costs
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has described the about-turn made by Transnet to pay its former chief executive Siyabonga Gama’s legal costs despite losing against the entity as “very unusual”.
The Commission of Inquiry into State Capture heard on Wednesday that the state-owned rail, logistics, port and pipeline company agreed to pay Gama’s 75% of the taxed legal costs incurred at the Transnet bargaining council, where he referred his unfair dismissal dispute, and at the South Gauteng High Court where he challenged the disciplinary action against him.
Siyabulela Mapoma, former general manager: group legal services at Transnet Group Capital, told the commission it was Transnet which was supposed to have had its costs recovered from Gama and that the settlement agreement changed what is normal and would see Transnet paying the costs that Gama had incurred.
”There were huge problems emanating from this,” Mapoma said.
Deputy Chief Justice Zondo described the agreement as very unusual.
”I’ve never heard of a party undertaking to contribute to the costs of the other party that has lost with costs,” he said.
Mapoma said he never advised then acting Transnet chief executive Mafika Mkhwanazi to put the legal costs in the settlement agreement.
”I would never have advised him, I agree with you, it was very unusual,” he said.
According to Mapoma, Gama’s attorney Themba Langa sent him a bill of costs that was 55 pages long and that was in excess of R12 million.
”I refused to pay it. A lot of problems started. It was ridiculous, there were a lot of falsities and inaccuracies in it,” he said.
Mapoma said he told Langa he was refusing to pay it.
”It just didn’t make sense to me, I refused to pay it outright,” explained Mapoma, adding that he threatened to report Langa to the law society.
He said there was pressure to pay the money.
”I have good sense to report you to the law society but I never did,” he said.
Mapoma said Langa sent him a very insulting letter, accusing him of being anti-transformation and refusing to assist black people.
The hearing continues. | Political Bureau