Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama. Picture: ROBERT TSHABALALA
Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama. Picture: ROBERT TSHABALALA

The labour court has ordered that the case of embattled Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama be referred to arbitration.

Gama approached the court earlier this week on an urgent basis in a bid to stop the Transnet board from terminating his employment contract.

This came after the state-owned enterprise (SOE) had given him 10 days, until October 15, to show cause why his contract should not be terminated following investigations that implicated him in misconduct and maladministration in the acquisition of R54bn worth of locomotives. 

On Friday, judge Graham Moshoana, ordered the stay of Gama’s application, pending the outcome of arbitration, as set out in his employment contract with Transnet.

‘‘An interdict cannot be issued, since the issue whether the applicant [Gama] has the right to a process is still to be determined through arbitration,’’ he said in his judgment. 

Moshoana said that had Gama referred the dispute with Transnet to arbitration and the company ‘‘sought to take the law into its own hands’’, he could have approached the court for interim relief pending the outcome of the arbitrator. ‘‘Since it is now common cause that there is a dispute ... I can only stay these proceedings pending the outcome of the arbitration process.

‘‘At this stage, I can only assume that the respondent [Transnet] would not take the law into its own hands. It would be an unnecessary exercise for the applicant to return to this court for an interim relief pending the outcome of the arbitration process,’’ Moshoana said.

He said that unless the parties arrive at an amicable solution, it seems obvious that the dispute should be arbitrated instead.  Moshoana also allowed the matter to be heard as an urgent one.

Gama has been in the line of fire after investigations found that he, former CEO Brian Molefe, and Gupta associates may have acted unlawfully in relation to the purchase of 1,064 locomotives. Gama replaced Molefe after the latter was appointed to run power utility Eskom.

Leaked Gupta e-mails contain claims that the Gupta family received multi-billion-rand kickbacks as part of the locomotive deal. Gama is also facing allegations that McKinsey helped draft his MBA assignments, around the same time the firm was awarded a contract at Transnet, together with Regiments Capital.