'I felt my life was at risk' says ex-treasurer on resignation from 'toxic' Transnet

Transnet's former group treasurer has testified that she resigned from the state-owned company in 2014, after the environment became too toxic for her to handle and she started to fear for her safety.

"I felt my life was at risk. I have four young kids, I am not going to play superwoman," she told the commission. 

The commission has been investigating allegations of state capture, corruption and fraud since August 2018.

Mathane Makgatho, continuing her testimony on Friday, told the commission how she time and again tried to convince then-Transnet CEO Brian Molefe against involving Gupta-linked advisory firm Regiments in organising a $2.5bn loan from the China Development Bank.

The loan was one of a number the state-owned rail and freight company was negotiating to finance the acquisition of new locomotives. 

"I don’t understand how Regiments were appointed – as far I was concerned there was no need for Regiments to be involved," she said.  

Makgatho said not only was Transnet's Treasury department more than capable of securing the loan itself, it was foolhardy to outsource the loan to a third party.  She described the proposals put forward by Regiments and backed by Transnet's former CFO Anoj Singh as "misrepresentations" and "flawed". 

By late 2014, she said, it became clear to her she wouldn't be able to convince senior Transnet executives to distance themselves from Regiments.  

Her blood pressure skyrocketed and she started to fear for her safety. 

"I worked on the assumption – and I think that I was right – that all my phones were bugged.

"I felt I was no longer safe around that environment. I felt I would be harmed," she said. 

She wrote memos to the board and Molefe arguing against Regiments so that there was a record of her views.

"I was made to believe there might be an involvement of the Taiwanese Mafia in this transaction," she said, adding that while she could not say whether this was true, it was difficult to know who to trust. 

"That information totally paralysed me."

She stepped down on November 30, 2014. She said after she left, a number of staff from Transnet's Treasury also resigned. 

According to amaBhungane, Regiments ended up pocketing a success fee of R166m for concluding the CDB loan deal. 

Phetolo Ramosebudi took over from Makgatho as group treasurer. He resigned in October 2018 after he was served with a notice that he was going to be suspended. 

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