Spurned wife spills the beans on Transnet web of corruption

2018-01-14 06:03
Kenneth Diedricks on holiday in Umhlanga during the Christmas holidays in 2011

Kenneth Diedricks on holiday in Umhlanga during the Christmas holidays in 2011

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A spurned wife has made damning claims about an alleged web of corruption at one of South Africa’s largest parastatals, detailing luxurious holidays to New York, Dubai, France and the Bahamas – paid for with wads of cash her husband allegedly received in kickbacks from lawyers and suppliers.

Yvette Diedricks (43), the now ex-wife of former Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) legal head Kenneth Diedricks (45), makes the allegations in a 17-page affidavit accompanied by 157 pages of annexures, which include hotel receipts, emails, photographs and bank statements she religiously kept.

It was deposed with a prosecutor at the National Prosecuting Authority in Pretoria, and is also being investigated by the Hawks.

It states that she escaped an attempt on her life after she threatened to expose her husband.

Kenneth, now a lawyer in private practice according to his Facebook account, resigned in November 2015 after emails she sent to his Transnet address detailing his alleged misdeeds came to the attention of his bosses.

Kenneth declined to comment this week, saying: “You can write what you want.”

Yvette’s affidavit begins in 2011, when Kenneth was introduced to Sibusiso Pretorius, the managing director of Polyzomba Rail Contractors. Pretorius wanted a R25m settlement deal for Polyzomba from TFR, and paid frequent visits to the Diedricks’ home to discuss it.

Although she was “not privy to the discussions as I would only check on them to see if they were good with drinks and refreshments”, she claims Kenneth told her that “Polyzomba had a contract with TFR and somebody on the TFR panel decided not to award or renew his contract”.

In December 2011, the Diedricks family went on holiday to Umhlanga, where they had rented a sea-facing penthouse for three weeks. While there, she alleges, Kenneth made “a lot of calls to TFR [and] Pretorius ... about the Polyzomba settlement”.

“After each call … Kenneth would boast to me how [Transnet staff] are running around and sh***ing in their pants because they are going to lose their jobs,” she says.

After Christmas, Kenneth approached her with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot and told her they would be going to the Bahamas for another holiday.

“He was very happy and told me what a smart lawyer he was.” Shortly after that, the Diedrickses met Pretorius at the five-star Oyster Box hotel’s restaurant, where Pretorius ordered more expensive French Champagne.

“Pretorius told me that we could order anything from the menu and that I should not be shy.”

After a breakfast meeting with Pretorius the next day, Kenneth allegedly gave Yvette R25 000 in cash to go shopping, which she spent at Umhlanga’s Gateway mall.

In her affidavit, Yvette states Kenneth “had a 25% kickback agreement with Pretorius on the Polyzomba settlement”.

Pretorius declined to comment in detail on Yvette’s allegations, saying Transnet paid him what was due to him and that he didn’t need to bribe anyone to get his money.

“If they didn’t pay me, I would have taken them to court and they would have paid me more,” he said.

Pretorius was served with summons to refund some of the money paid to Polyzomba. He insisted he would not pay back a cent.

Pretorius, however, was not the only one who allegedly gave Kenneth cash. Yvette received more shopping money after meetings Kenneth allegedly had with lawyers who did work for TFR.

“Kenneth told me that these monies were to ensure that they were on the TFR panel for work,” she says.

“And these cash amounts were usually from brown envelopes or canvas bags that he received from his associates. They were never withdrawn from his bank accounts. Sometimes it would come from the safe in our bedroom.”

Threats

After the Polyzomba settlement was finalised, Kenneth’s meetings with Pretorius allegedly continued.

Yvette claims Pretorius made a deposit of R300 000 towards their new home in Bassonia. It was done by electronic transfer into the account of their conveyancing attorneys, using the account of one of his employees so as not to arouse suspicion.

“All I know is that Kenneth told me that he did everything in his power to settle the Polyzomba matter ... Further, that Pretorius owed him big time,” she says.

The couple spent Christmas in 2012 in the Bahamas and welcomed the new year in New York.

“When we arrived in New York, Kenny upgraded our room after throwing tantrums, which was booked in the New York Marriott Hotel, so that we could have a view of a ‘ball drop’ [in Times Square] during the New Year’s Eve celebrations. An extra amount of $3 915.01 [R48 400 at today’s exchange rate] for the room upgrade was paid for in cash by Kenneth.”

That June, they went to Paris and stayed in the five-star Hotel Chateau Frontenac, and to Dubai, where they stayed at the five-star Atlantis resort. Her husband, she alleges, was earning about R61 500 a month at the time.

“Kenneth paid in cash for all our travel expenses ... Further, Kenneth also ensured that we take our international holiday trips during the time that TFR staff got paid their annual performance bonuses so that it didn’t raise eyebrows with his colleagues at work,” she alleges.

The following year, Kenneth allegedly instructed Yvette to open a beauty salon, and he allegedly paid cash for orders from suppliers, staff salaries and rent.

“Kenneth paid for all of this with kickback moneys that he received from his associates. During this period, our safe at home was always filled with cash. Kenneth applied for loans from Direct Axis, and he would not pay his bank credit cards and let it fall into arrears. He told me that it was all part of his plan. Should the Polyzomba matter or any other matter be investigated, he will ask the investigators how he could have received kickbacks when he had so much debt himself and could not afford to pay some of it,” she alleges.

She says her salon had no clients, but Kenneth would make her pay money into her business bank account.

“Most of our household furniture was bought during this time from House of Salim, Bakos Brothers, Coricraft, Mokki and Patio Warehouse, and all of it was paid for in cash by Kenneth.”

Besides holidays, the couple threw a lavish house-warming party catered for by society caterer Vicky Crease, paid for in cash. Kenneth threw a lavish 40th birthday party at the five-star Saxon hotel in Johannesburg in 2012, for which he allegedly paid R100 000 in cash.

But it all came crashing down on Yvette when Kenneth began an affair with TFR intern Clarissa Fortuin.

“I got wind of the affair and asked him to end the relationship. Kenneth refused and it was during this time that I sent a string of emails to his work email address, threatening that I would expose him and his shenanigans on the Polyzomba deal and his other interactions with the rest of the panel of attorneys. It was during this time that I sent photographs to his work email with all the attorneys involved, deposit slips and other things.”

After Kenneth resigned, he came home and “threw his resignation letter in my face, laughed at me and told me what an idiot I was”.

“Further, he told me how I’ve lost everything, how I’ve made it easier for him and Clarissa to come out in the open with their love affair.”

He moved out of their home.

After Kenneth allegedly told Yvette’s mother that she was “going to end up dead” for “involving and exposing too many people in our problems”, Yvette made a statement at the Mondeor Police Station. After she was shot at twice, she went to the station again, where Kenneth was furious to discover the existence of her first affidavit and the names it contained.

Kenneth allegedly managed to persuade Yvette to withdraw her first affidavit and replace it with one he drew up and had her sign.

“He promised me that if I [did], he would not proceed with the divorce, that he would book marriage counselling for us, that we would work on our marriage and that he would end his affair with Clarissa. I reluctantly agreed as I … wanted to save my marriage.

“After three counselling sessions, Kenneth told me that he was just playing me because he wanted me to withdraw my original affidavit,” she says.

“He told me there was nothing I could do now as I would be arrested for perjury, and he proceeded with his affair and the divorce.”

Read more on:    transnet

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