South African prosecutors have arrested several former executives at public logistics company Transnet, which is at the centre of a high-profile investigation into corruption during Jacob Zuma’s tenure as president.
On Monday, South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said Transnet’s former chief executive officer Brian Molefe and finance chief Anoj Singh were among four people held in connection with a multimillion-dollar corruption case.
“Several arrests of former Transnet executives have been effected this morning, through arrangement with their legal representatives,” the NPA said in a statement.
Brian Molefe, Anoj Singh, the parastatal’s former finance boss, and their co-accused were granted bail in connection with the R93-million corruption and fraud case linked to the procurement of 1 064 locomotives in 2015.
The two former executives were joined in the dock by Niven Pillay and Litha Nyhonyha, directors at the Gupta-linked firm, Regiments Capital. The four men were granted R50 000 bail. The case has been postponed to 14 October.
Earlier, six other people, who had already been charged in the matter, appeared briefly in the same courtroom. Ex-Transnet group CEO, Siyabonga Gama, Regiment Capital’s Eric Wood, former Transnet acting chief financial officer Garry Pita, former group treasurer Phetolo Ramosebudi, Trillian Asset Management director Daniel Roy and Kuben Moodley, owner of Albatime – previously appeared in court in May.
The matter stems from a payment of R93 million to Trillian Capital, a Gupta-linked proxy company, to secure funding for the purchase of the locomotives.
The transaction advisory contract was initially awarded to global investment bank, JP Morgan, before the deal was cancelled. It was subsequently awarded to Trillian. The estimated cost of the project ballooned from around R38 billion in 2012 to more than R50 billion.
In its report, the Zondo Commission recommended that the police investigate Molefe, Gama and Singh for their alleged roles in siphoning money from Transnet to the Gupta family.
A 2018 forensic report found that Molefe had misled the state-owned entity’s board about its obligation to inform then-public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba about the spike in the project’s costs.
Investigating Directorate (ID) national spokesperson, Sindisiwe Seboka said Seboka said the state further issued warrants of arrest for Salim Essa and Ashok Narayan, who is currently out of the country.
“This arrest and court appearance signifies a critical move in closing the circle in holding to account all those alleged to have been at the core of state capture in Transnet and is one of the seminal cases that the NPA has committed to enrolling by the end of September,” Seboka said.
Head of the ID, advocate Andrea Johnson, said Transnet is considered one of the primary sites of massive looting of state funds at the peak of the state capture project. The ID said more people are expected to be arrested linked to this matter.
The opposition Democratic Alliance party welcomed the arrests, saying it hoped it was the “beginning of justice”.
“While others have already been charged in this case, it seems that the last chickens have now finally come home to roost,” party’s senior lawmaker Glynnis Breytenbach said in a statement.
The state is still trying to prosecute Atul and Rajesh Gupta for fraud and money-laundering in the Nulane Investments case, where it is seeking the fugitive brothers’ extradition from the United Arab Emirates. Extradition is often a time-consuming and drawn-out process consisting of complicated legal steps and a plethora of potential legal challenges.