Members of Parliament (MPs) from across the political divide on Tuesday called for a probe into allegations of state capture at South African state-owned freight and logistics company, Transnet.
Transnet group chief executive Siyabonga Gama and his team appeared before Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) to explain how far they have fared in investigations into alleged kickbacks given to Gupta-linked companies in exchange for contracts with the state-owned company.
Gama told MPs they had instituted forensic probes into allegations contained in various media reports relating to contracts Transnet awarded to companies who reportedly paid kickbacks to firms linked to the politically-connected Gupta family to secure these contracts.
“In all of these instances there are internal forensic investigations that are continuing,” Gama said.
The probes include allegations contained in the ,Gupta Leaks that German software company SAP paid the Guptas R100 million to get a contract from Transnet.
The leaks also reveal how another German company, Software AG, had allegedly paid kickbacks to a company linked to the Guptas to secure a R180 million contract from Transnet Freight Rail.
Reports that Tequesta, owned by know Gupta lieutenant Salim Essa, had received R5.3 billion in kickbacks from China South Rail to secure part of Transnets R50 billion locomotive acquisition contract were also being probed, said Gama.
“On the SAP contract ,that investigation has been completed. No wrongdoing was found on the part of Transnet and Transnet employees but there were three emploeyes in SAP South Africa itself that SAP was going to do additional investigations on,” said Gama.
“On a number of the issues, the internal forensic investigations are continuing within Transnet and I think at an appropriate time when these reports are at hand, we would like to share them with you.”
Thapelo Chiloane from South Africa’s majority party, the African National Congress (ANC) said she was concerned that Eskom waited for media reports to act.
“We cannot have the media supervising Transnet. Transnet cannot wait for media allegations for them to act. At what point do line managers do their jobs?”
Chiloane’s fellow ANC MP Mnyami Booi suggested a parliamentary probe, insisting “Transnet has misled us.”
“Transnet is quite happy to investigate itself and come to its own conclusions. They have no respect for Parliament and if ever we allow this think to hang around they will continue to disrespect Parliament,” Booi said.
“Can’t Parliament institute its own investigation into allegations made against Transnet…you cannot be seated here and be led by Transnet…where everyone there has been appointed by the Guptas.”
Booi’s suggestion won favour with David Ross from the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA).
“I would just like to support the proposal that a full parliamentary investigation needs to be done. We are talking about massive money.”
MPs are set to meet Treasury next week Tuesday before calling Transnet back to the committee on Wednesday.
Inkatha Freedom Party MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa said Scopa should do a “pre-investigation” so that a formal proposal is put to Parliament for a probe.
“I am adamant that what I’ve read in between last week and last night and what I’ve seen this morning, there is no smoke without fire,” said Hlengwa.