Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama. Picture: BLOOMBERG/ KAREL PRINSLOO
Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama. Picture: BLOOMBERG/ KAREL PRINSLOO

Two months before being appointed Transnet CE permanently‚ Siyabonga Gama allegedly enjoyed a two-night stay at the five-star The Oberoi in Dubai courtesy of the Gupta family.

Gama confirmed meeting Gupta lieutenant Salim Essa during the stay, but denied the Guptas paid for him.

Leaked Gupta e-mails have revealed a booking confirmation, e-mailed to Gupta-owned Sahara Systems CE Ashu Chawla, under Gama’s name.

Chawla then forwarded the e-mail to longtime Gupta family associate Essa‚ who until recently was the 60% owner of Trillian Capital Partners‚ a financial consulting firm that netted millions in contracts with state-owned entities Transnet and Eskom.

Gama insisted he had paid his own way.

He also provided an invoice — which he said was from The Oberoi — stamped "Paid".

The invoice does not show the hotel’s name or say who settled the bill and was printed in June 2017‚ a year-and-a-half after he stayed at The Oberoi — and at about the same time he was approached for comment.

Leaked e-mails reveal‚ however‚ that a month after Gama’s stay‚ in February 2016‚ The Oberoi e-mailed Chawla a statement for Sahara Computer’s outstanding account.

On the account‚ Gama’s bill is listed as unpaid‚ including that of Denel board chairman Dan Mantsha and Eskom head of generation Matshela Koko. The amount is the same as on the invoice Gama provided.

"I can confirm that Salim Essa of Trillian was a contractor of Transnet‚" Gama said.

"When I was in Davos‚ I received a request for a meeting from Essa. Since I travelled on Emirates Airlines‚ he suggested he meet me in Dubai during the stopover since he was in Dubai.

"I agreed and he suggested that he will reserve a hotel room‚ which I paid for‚" he said. The Trillian and Regiments contracts were later cancelled by Transnet, he said.

Gama said that Essa "raised the issue of his involvement in Trillian, which was being formed as an offshoot of Regiments. [Essa said] the expertise would remain the same as core resources would migrate from Regiments and that the quality of work for Transnet would be unaffected."

Gama was booked to stay in a deluxe suite from January 22 to 24 2016.

Gama was permanently appointed Transnet CE in April 2016, after acting in the position from April 2015.

Flight bookings found in the leaked e-mails show that Ajay Gupta was in Dubai for half a day at the same time.

Gama denied having ever met Ajay Gupta, saying that he met only Essa.

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