Transnet board in contempt of court, says axed CEO Siyabonga Gama
Axed Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama wants the Labour Court to order that the 13 members of the utility’s board are in contempt of court and as such should be jailed for 90 days, suspended for a period of time, or be fined.
Gama was served with a termination of contract letter on Sunday, with the board giving him six months’ notice. However, the board said his last working day would be on Monday.
His axing came 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 for R54bn.
Leaked Gupta e-mails contain claims that the Gupta family received multibillion-rand kickbacks as part of the purchase.
Gama has since lodged an urgent Labour Court application in a bid to have the termination of his contract overturned, asking the court to order that he is entitled to remain in his position as Transnet CEO.
Alternatively, he wants the court to direct that pending the outcome of arbitration proceedings, he is entitled to remain in his position.
He also asked the court to order that the decision to end his contract with Transnet constituted contempt of court and violated the constitution.
Gama said organs of state, which include Transnet, were duty-bound to comply with court orders.
Gama’s argument is that the board is in breach of a Labour Court ruling last week, in which the court stayed his application to interdict Transnet from terminating his contract.
The court on Friday stayed Gama’s application and ordered that his dispute with Transnet be referred to arbitration.
The Transnet board, however, said it was under no obligation to go to arbitration and that the court order did not stop it from taking any decision regarding Gama’s contract.
The former CEO, who asked for the matter to be heard on Thursday, said he was also not given an opportunity to give his side of the story in terms of the allegations of misconduct against him, which would have been dealt with in a formal disciplinary process or arbitration.
He denied that he was guilty of any misconduct, and called the charges "baseless".
Gama has also asked that the costs of the application be paid by Transnet board chairman Popo Molefe and his fellow directors in their personal capacity.
Transnet director Edward Kieswetter has confirmed that the company has reviewed Gama’s court papers and is in the process of preparing a response.
Gama is insisting that he will continue to report for work.
When asked if Gama had reported for work on Tuesday, Kieswetter said that to his "best knowledge" he had not.