Police probe Gama for 'spying'

2018-01-07 06:03
Siyabonga Gama

Siyabonga Gama

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Transnet chief executive officer (CEO) Siyabonga Gama and two senior executives are under investigation by the police for allegedly spying on colleagues whom they suspected of blowing the whistle on corruption.

The revelations are contained in a confidential draft PwC report, which City Press has obtained.

It also forms part of the evidence of a Hawks corruption investigation, indicates that Natasha Ramnarain, the assistant manager for forensic investigations at Transnet Freight Rail (TFR), was tasked with setting up “search parameters” for all incoming and outgoing emails for three employees.

The employees – Liketso Malimabe, Andy Pather and Harry Lekalakala – were part of TFR’s legal service division.

Malimabe and Pather were suspected of feeding information to Lekalakala, a former a TFR legal services senior executive who was suspected of having leaked details of a “dubious” R25m settlement to the media.

Transnet spokesperson Molatwane Likhethe confirmed this week that the matter between Lekalakala and Transnet was being dealt with by the Hawks.

“Transnet respects this process and reserves its comment,” said Likhethe.

“It is, however, worth mentioning that after his resignation, the gentleman in question started a campaign of generating a pool of emails which he sent to many people, including Transnet employees, with all sorts of allegations.

“This harassment with emails went on for a while and, as a result, Transnet had to tighten its processes in order to sift emails that were aimed at harassing its staff – contrary to what is referred to as ‘interception’.

The involvement of Mr Gama on this matter is totally out of context.”

The drama started in 2014 after Polyzomba, a company which had been awarded a rail maintenance contract by TFR, was awarded a R25m settlement for work that had allegedly not been done.

The company was later found to have paid at least R300 000 towards the home of former TFR head of legal and forensics, Kenneth Diedricks, in the wealthy Johannesburg suburb of Bassonia.

The report, commissioned by Transnet but its status is not clear, contains the allegation of a witness, who told PwC investigators that Diedricks reported directly to Gama and allegedly boasted in “meetings” that “nobody can complain to Mr Gama as Mr Gama is aware of everything that Mr Diedricks does”.

The settlement, the report found, was facilitated by Gama’s personal lawyer, Themba Langa, who also acted for Polyzomba.

Likhethe denied that Langa was Gama’s lawyer at the time, saying he last represented Gama in 2011.

The PwC report was compiled on September 15 2015, but has only recently come into the possession of prosecutors leading the investigation into Diedricks.

It was given to the Hawks last year, after Lekalakala laid criminal charges against Gama for his alleged illegal interception of communication.

However, City Press understands that the case lay untouched until Lekalakala laid a fresh complaint with police watchdog the Independent Police Investigative Directorate about its inaction.

The case is now being actively investigated.

The 350-page PwC report is also an expanded version of a previous report compiled by the company in March 2015. City Press also has this document.

More recently, however, a legal opinion obtained by Transnet in October 2016 – and commissioned on the basis of the PwC report’s findings – found that the Polyzomba settlement was unlawful and recommended that TFR begin recouping the money from the company.

The most recent PwC report accuses Gama and Transnet executives Ramnarain, Bramley May and Thamsanqa Jiyane of illegally intercepting the emails of Lekalakala and the two other employees.

“May informed us that he was requested by Jiyane to place the search parameters on behalf of Gama, and that he met with Gama, Jiyane [and another employee] ... to give documentary proof of the results of the searches,” states the report.

“May states that he did inform Ramnarain to complete the services request form and obtain the necessary approval.”

The report also states that Gama, who was then head of TFR, told investigators that Transnet’s then CEO, Brian Molefe, wanted to see the emails, which is why he asked May for them. It goes on to state that, according to Transnet’s own policies, “reading or sending messages from another user’s account, except under proper delegate arrangements, is a violation of the [company] policy”.

Lekalakala confirmed to City Press that he had laid charges against Gama, May, Ramnarain and Jiyane, adding that he “resigned from Transnet in May 2014 after being put under tremendous pressure”.

“This happened immediately after I raised a number of queries and concerns regarding a settlement and a huge payout to Polyzomba.

"This settlement was personally overseen and signed off by Diedricks without my knowledge or involvement, despite the fact that the dispute with the service provider in question was of a contractual nature and thus fell within my area of responsibility.”

In 2015, City Press reported on the draft findings of a previous PwC report detailing an investigation into allegations of irregularities at TFR, including that staff members were intimidated and targeted for raising questions about lucrative settlements and tenders.

Although the auditing firm found at the time that the specific allegations against Gama were baseless, it did find evidence of several irregularities at TFR, which happened under Gama’s watch.

Both reports found that, besides benefiting from a payment towards his house, Diedricks also planted evidence against TFR staff, threatened staff at meetings and may have leaked confidential company information to companies to help them position themselves for upcoming Transnet tenders.

PwC was contracted to investigate after a confidential dossier from anonymous “TFR senior and executive managers” was sent to then CEO Molefe.

City Press learnt that Diedricks was allowed to resigned from Transnet without facing any disciplinary action.

Read more on:    transnet  |  ipid  |  siyabonga gama

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