In the decade leading up to 2013, Transnet tried to conduct itself like a listed company. After emerging from a multibillion-rand loss it sought to observe a “closed period” — meaning no release of price-sensitive information through media interviews — ahead of releasing financial results, which were always on time.

Nowadays, however, this pretence has been dropped. Instead, the state-owned transport and freight logistics company conducts itself like any of the financially distressed state-owned enterprises (SOEs). For the first time since it unbundled SAA and the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa), it received a fiscal bailout last October to plug holes...

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