Johannesburg – Corruption flourished at Transnet during Brian Molefe’s and Anoj Singh’s tenures as chief executive and chief financial officer, the Zondo Commission heard on Thursday .
The state-owned freight, rail and logistics company’s former group treasurer, Mathane Makgatho, described Singh as “a very corrupt guy” because he was reckless while Molefe was very street smart and played his cards well.
Makgatho, who held the position between March 2013 and November 2014, described Molefe as someone she considered a brother as they had worked together at the National Treasury in the 1990s and she could not quickly establish that he was also part of the mess.
She said Singh was doing as he pleased and was a loose cannon, yet Molefe was giving him more and more powers.
Makgatho told the commission, chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, that she had spoken to Molefe about his consolidation of power and giving it to Singh, who she said couldn’t be trusted.
She said she had warned Molefe about the ticking time bomb that was Singh but he had just brushed her aside.
”I don’t think the guy can be managed you must just cut his power,” Makgatho recalled telling Molefe.
Molefe had responded: ”I’ll manage him, I don’t want to ruffle feathers.”
She said Singh had been very consistent on his path of destruction.
”I thought that he was my brother. With the passing of time, I began to slowly see that they are the same game players, just that the other one is a rough player (Singh) and the other one is a smooth operator (Molefe),” Makgatho said in her description of the men who later became Eskom chief executive and chief financial officer after leaving Transnet, respectively.
She recalled being shocked when she discovered the obscene amounts that Transnet was paying Gupta-linked companies McKinsey and Regiments Capital when some of its employees were not reaching their cash deliverables as part cash management enhancement, due to paying the two companies’ invoices.
Makgatho said McKinsey and Regiments had been receiving many payments from Transnet.
Between May 2013 and March 2014, Regiments was paid R107m for projects they were involved in and another R211m a few months later. “I was shocked to see that within a short space of time Regiments and McKinsey were paid between R600m and R700m in around 15 months,” Makgatho testified.
The R616m paid to the companies at the time were payments from the pension fund, the budget for locomotives, professional and transaction advisory services, among others.
Makgatho said she had not knowm that McKinsey and Regiments were so entrenched in the business. “I was shocked beyond words,” she said.
Makgatho also told the commission how she had blocked Molefe from approving a R5 billion loan from Nedbank when Transnet was cash flush and had between R10bn and R13bn.
She said the loan, which was to have much higher interest rates, would have cost Transnet R150m a year and R750m over in capital leakages.
Makgatho had told Singh that the loan would be very expensive, but he said she had to go ahead and make the recommendation to Molefe, even though Transnet’s treasury had never reviewed a financing proposal in just one day.
”We were basically being asked to give away R750m within a day,” she said.
Makgatho had been informed that it was Molefe who wanted the transaction done.
She had then approached Molefe and asked him: “Are you aware that R750m is going to be stolen? Are you aware that if we recommend this and you approve it we are going to jail?”
Molefe had assured her that he would handle the matter, understood her concerns and agreed with her.
She said Regiments had not had a mandate to talk to banks on behalf of Transnet.