A loading crane straddles a freight rail track at Transnet's container handling terminal at City Deep inland port in Johannesburg. Picture: BLOOMBERG
A loading crane straddles a freight rail track at Transnet's container handling terminal at City Deep inland port in Johannesburg. Picture: BLOOMBERG

Transnet suspended four executive committee members with immediate effect on Friday, including the state-owned entity’s (SOE) group COO, Mlamuli Buthelezi.

The other three executives are group HR officer Nonkululeko Sishi; CEO of Transnet Freight Rail, Ravi Nair; and Shulami Qalinge, the CEO of the Transnet National Ports Authority.

Transnet and other SOEs were used for looting as part of state capture. 

Since the new board was appointed in 2018, under the leadership of Popo Molefe, it has been moving to clean-up the entity and take action against those implicated in maladministration and malfeasance at the state-owned freight and rail company.

Transnet spokesperson Molatwane Likhethe said the company was of the view that the four executives’ continued presence in the workplace had the potential to jeopardise investigations into their alleged misconduct. He did not say what charges they were facing. The four have been placed on suspension with full pay and benefits. 

Last month, Transnet issued precautionary suspension letters to eight senior executives who had been implicated in forensic reports dating as far back as 2011. The letters were issued to senior executives ranging from GMs to executive managers.

The company has already dismissed its group CEO, Siyabonga Gama, suspended other senior executives, and issued summonses to recover the money it lost in the procurement of 1,064 locomotives. Those summonsed include Gama; other former CEO, Brian Molefe; and former CFO and Gupta ally, Anoj Singh.

Several investigative reports have found anomalies in procurement processes followed when General Electric, Bombardier, China North Rail and China South Rail were awarded contracts for the acquisition of locomotives worth R54bn.

Transnet is also looking to recover money given to consultancy firms Trillian and Regiments Capital, and has been reviewing all contracts at the company, including those for the locomotives.

Likhethe said the company’s primary aim is to restore confidence and deliver on its mandate. 

“We therefore need to be deliberate about improving our corporate governance and establish leadership [informed by principles of integrity and accountability],” he said. “The journey also involves taking difficult decisions with a view to restoring confidence on Transnet.”

quintalg@businesslive.co.za