BREAKING: Public Protector to investigate some #GuptaLeaks claims

Cape Town - The Public Protector will conduct a preliminary investigation to determine the merits of some of the allegations that have been published as part of the #GuptaLeaks saga that point to issues at Eskom, Prasa and Transnet.

These allegations point to improper or dishonest acts or offences with respect to public funds at the state-owned enterprises as well as well as improper or unlawful enrichment by certain public officials at these institutions, the office of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane said in a statement on Wednesday night.

Aside from the #GuptaLeaks, the investigation will also look at the controversial re-appointment of Brian Molefe as head of Eskom.

Former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's initial state capture report about alleged improper and unethical conduct by President Jacob Zuma and other state functionaries relating to the Gupta family was released last year.

A review application by Zuma on the recommendations of that report is expected to be heard in October.

Catch up on what we know so far on #GuptaLeaks here.  

Mkhwebane said most of the issues form part of the State of Capture Report, except allegations that:

- The Guptas received high-level confidential information from the then Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi;

 - At least two immigration officials (Gideon Christians and Ms Munyadziwa) were specially positioned in India by then Minister of Home Affairs, to assist Gupta associate Ashu Chawla to the benefit of Gupta-owned businesses, liaising through Major Kobese, a music producer and director in the foreign office of the Department of Home Affairs.

Regarding Eskom, there will be an investigation into:

- The re-appointment of Brian Molefe as Eskom CEO;

- Allegations that acting CEO Matshela Koko channelled contracts to a company partly owned by his stepdaughter;

- Allegations that Koko leaked a legal opinion to the Guptas;

- The role of Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown in the re-appointment of Molefe;

- Allegations of Brown’s failure to exercise the required executive oversight over Eskom, its board and management;

- Allegations by former Minister of Mineral Resources, Ngoako Ramatlhodi, that Molefe and former Eskom Board Chairperson, Ben Ngubane, pressurised him to help the Guptas take over Glencore’s coal mine in 2016;

The allegations that former Passenger Rail Agency of SA chairperson, Sifiso Buthelezi, failed to disclose a conflict of interest arising from his interest in Makana, a subsidiary of Cadiz which provided advisory services to Prasa on its rolling stock programme, would be included in a second investigation into Prasa, which is currently underway.

The protector's office has already published a report titled Derailed into allegations of maladministration at Prasa and this is being taken on review by former Prasa CEO Lucky Montana.

Regarding Transnet, the preliminary probe will look into:

- Allegations of a kickback agreement totalling R5.3bn, regarding the procurement of locomotive at Transnet;

- The role of then Minister of Public Enterprises Malusi Gigaba in the appointment of Iqbal Shama and Molefe to Transnet board of directors, chair of the board acquisition and disposal committee, and senior management respectively;

 - Role players in the procurement process for freight locomotives in July 2012;

 - Allegations of Brown’s failure to exercise the required executive oversight over Transnet, its board and management.    

Brown's spokesperson Colin Cruywagen said the minister welcomed the latest probe.

''She will co-operate with the Public Protector, as she will co-operate with any institution that is investigating allegations of state capture.''

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