Chairperson of Transnet Popo Molefe is seen after testifying as a witness at the state capture commission of inquiry. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips/ African News Agency (ANA)
Johannesburg - Rampant looting cost Transnet up to R18 billion but the troubled state-owned company has assured the country it was recovering some of the stolen money from its former executives and Gupta associates.

Transnet chairperson Popo Molefe yesterday revealed that the loss to the logistics, freight and rail transport company could be as much as R18bn and that it was chasing R7.2bn, part of which left the country, with only R1.8bn still in South Africa.

Molefe said Transnet has instituted a lawsuit against its former bosses to recover hundreds of millions of rand looted during their reign, which he described as a horror show.

The former bosses, who include former chief executives Brain Molefe and Siyabonga Gama, former chief financial officers Anoj Singh and Gary Pita, former Transnet Freight Rail chief executive Ravi Nair, former Transnet Property chief executive Thabo Lebelo and the company’s former treasurer Phetolo Ramosebudi have also either had their pensions frozen or are being sued for hundreds of millions of rand.

Molefe said the level of looting did not end there but there are many other cases.

Transnet is also gunning for two Gupta-linked companies, Trillian and Regiments Capital, to recover hundreds of millions of rand in payments they received, including some that were done without any work done.

From Gama, Transnet is demanding R323.7m including R93m paid to Trillian for a $1bn (R14bn) club loan and the R41m paid to the controversial company after it proposed to Transnet to maximise the value of its property portfolio.

Gama must also pay back the R189m paid to Regiments.

Transnet wants to recover R79.2m from Brian Molefe for an advisory contract awarded to Regiments.

Ramosibudi must pay back R282.7m including the R189m paid to Regiments without just cause, R11m in unjustified overpayments to Trillian.

Singh and Pita also face civil claims for authorising similar payments.

Transnet group supply chain officer Edward Thomas is facing a lawsuit for R11.4m money paid to Trillian for work not done, according to Molefe.

“The underlying reason for all these claims in respect of managers of Transnet is that managers breached their fiduciary duties,” Molefe said.

He said had the managers not made those decisions the company would not have lost money and that if the Asset Forfeiture Unit and the Hawks were investigating these matters, the banks accounts of these individuals would have been frozen.

Transnet has instituted civil action to recover losses against Regiments Capital for R189m and R79m, which both relate to unjustified payments.

Molefe said Transnet entered negotiations with Regiments to force them to repay the money.

“These matters are the subjects of negotiations. These matters will be resolved in due course,” Molefe said.

Transnet is demanding about R291m from Gupta lieutenant Salim Essa’s Trillian including payments before contracts were signed.

Molefe said Transnet had a world class treasury that raised its capital and never needed any external expertise.

Transnet’s treasury, Molefe added, was heads and shoulders above a lot of financial managers and received global recognition and was in the top three of treasuries.

Molefe told the commission of inquiry into state capture that when President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed the board he chairs, they found Transnet on the edge of a cliff and about to collapse.

“The alacrity, the speed with which those who were looting were moving, it was just a matter of time before Transnet becomes like power utility Eskom,” he said.

The commission will resume tomorrow.

The Star