EDITORIAL: Once again, why are looters not in jail?
Why has there not been a single arrest, let alone a prosecution, with regard to this blatant theft?
The draft report issued last week by the National Treasury to Eskom, Transnet and those implicated in the corruption that sucked billions of rands from the most strategic and key state-owned companies is yet another set of compelling evidence about the blatant theft from the people of SA. It lists more than R30bn looted from the companies since at least 2013, allegedly by the very executives who were entrusted with looking after their best interests.
The names of Brian Molefe, who successively headed both Eskom and Transnet; Anoj Singh, who became finance chief of both; Matshela Koko, a former Eskom executive; and current Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama are among those who feature most prominently in this category.
Politicians and their families and government officials, who had taken oaths of office swearing to uphold the law and everything that is in the best interests of the country, allegedly intervened on the side of the looters. The names Duduzane Zuma, Lynne Brown, her personal assistant Kim Davids and former public enterprises director-general Richard Seleke also feature numerous times in the report on the side of politicians and officials implicated in the corruption.
The plot cannot, of course, be complete without the businessmen who bought close proximity, over many years, to influential politicians and officials for their own private benefit.
The Gupta family and their other hangers-on are but some of these. Regiments Capital, Trillian Capital and their executives and shareholders Eric Wood and Salim Essa also occupy space in the document. Then, for good measure, they were joined on the gravy train by others previously highly regarded in global business circles, such as consultancy McKinsey & Company.
About many here, these are allegations only in so far as nobody has been hauled to court, tried and convicted. What is fact, even at this stage, and has been for many years, is that SA has lost billions of rands, estimated by public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan at more than R100bn, to this organised criminal activity.
Fundudzi Forensic Services, contracted by then finance minister Gordhan, spent close to a year trawling through official records obtained from Eskom, Transnet and the Treasury to arrive at its damning findings.
Granted, the report is interim at this stage, as those implicated have been given until August 13 to respond. The report makes for compelling reading, all 410 pages of it, painstakingly laying out evidence — much of which has been in the public domain for the past six years.
Much of this evidence was corroborated by the so-called "Gupta Leaks" — a trove of e-mail correspondence that found its way to the public last year from the family’s servers. Some of the evidence, such as the alleged deposits into Singh’s bank accounts in excess of R19m, together with many of his trips allegedly sponsored by McKinsey at the time it was receiving questionable contracts from Transnet, has not been public material until now.
When it becomes final, the report will add to the mountain of evidence against those whose greed propelled SA deep into the economic doldrums and even put it in a recession in 2017.
The question that should be on everybody’s mind, given such a mountain of evidence easily accessible to anybody who is interested, is: why has there not been a single arrest, let alone a prosecution, with regard to this blatant theft? How can the police and the prosecutors fail, for so long, to prosecute even the easiest of these cases? The answers, of course, also seem to be as easy as it is to find the evidence.