SIU guns for luxury properties bought with proceeds from unlawful activities by Transnet executives

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An order by the tribunal recommends that assets and properties bought by money from kickbacks by excutives Thabo Lebelo and Phathutshedzo Mashamba be frozen until they can be forfeited to the state. Getty Images
An order by the tribunal recommends that assets and properties bought by money from kickbacks by excutives Thabo Lebelo and Phathutshedzo Mashamba be frozen until they can be forfeited to the state. Getty Images


The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) Tribunal has ordered that assets belonging to former Transnet executives Thabo Lebelo and Phathutshedzo Mashamba, their wives and family trusts be frozen pending an application to have them forfeited to the state.

The order by SIU Tribunal judge Lebogang Modiba on Monday followed the SIU application to have the assets forfeited to the state as the unit argued they were acquired through ‘kickbacks and secret’ profits from service providers.

READ: SIU guns for ex-Transnet execs’ luxury properties and other assets

“The order below shall operate as a rule nisi until it is confirmed or discharged. The first to third respondents (Lebelo and Mashamba) and any other person with knowledge of this order are prohibited from selling, leasing, donating, transferring title in, disposing of land and buildings situated at Rosebank Township … a unit consisting of Section 408 … Erf 2036 Dainfern Extension 19.”

Modiba also interdicted the Transnet Retirement Fund from paying out or transferring any benefits it holds (that may be owed to them) pending the final determination of civil proceedings:

for recovery of damages or losses and disgorgement of secret profits, to be instituted by the applicants against the respondents within 60 days from the date of this order.

The court ordered that a curator, Aviwe Ndyamara of Tshwane Trusts Co., be appointed to look after the rights, title and interest in the Rosebank and Dainfern properties.

In a damning affidavit filed before the tribunal, SIU chief forensic investigator Reon Theron wrote that they were seeking an interim relief to preserve certain properties held by both Lebelo and Mashamba families.

READ: Cable theft a matter of national security

Theron said the SIU intended to bring civil litigations against the two families for:

the disgorgement of secret profits they earned from suppliers and tenants of Transnet Property, which profits were also bribes, kickbacks, gratification or gratuities paid to them as a result of their roles in awarding lucrative service or lease agreements from Transnet Property.

Theron cited contracts with Superfecta Trading 209 CC and BBDM Bros Advertising Agency as having contributed to the massive losses of revenue to Transnet due to the companies being favoured in return for kickbacks and favours.

Superfecta has been a supplier of electrical and maintenance services to Transnet Property from 2016 to date while BBDM obtained a 15-year lease of Transnet Property’s Carlton Skyrink Building from 2015 on extremely favourable terms.

“Mr Lebelo and Mr Mashamba were both instrumental in Superfecta and BBDM obtaining lucrative contracts from Transnet Property. Over the period February 2016 to August 2018, Superfecta earned over R64 million in payments from Transnet, as a result of its business with Transnet Property,” the affidavit read.

READ: Mkhwebane defends ‘hitman’ Lebelo’s appointment 

BBDM also scored R73 million following its lease with Transnet for tenant installation allowances.

“Lebelo and Mashamba each received the following unlawful benefits from Superfecta. Lebelo received three apartment units and an exclusive-use balcony area in The Capital on Bath, situated in Rosebank, Johannesburg, that was transferred to his family trust, the Thabo Lebelo Family Trust. These properties were effectively gifted or donated to Mr Lebelo and his relatives via his family trust by Superfecta.”

According to the documents, during and about November 2017 to January 2018, Superfecta directors Mphephu and Thabiso Khoncha authorised the ostensible sale of the Rosebank properties by the Abipa Family Trust to the Thabo Lebelo Family Trust for the sum of R 4.7 million.

Theron wrote: 

Less than two months later, Mr (Thabiso) Khoncha paid the full purchase price of the Rosebank properties of R4.7 million and the transfer costs of R 400 000 to the conveyancers. The Rosebank properties were then registered in the name of the Thabo Lebelo Family Trust without Mr Lebelo or the Trust paying anything towards the purchase price of the properties.

The SIU stated in the affidavit that Mashamba received R2 million from Khoncha that was paid towards the purchase price of Portion 490 of a Diepsloot farm Number 388, which was subsequently bought by Mashamba’s wife’s company, Red Lip Communications, for R2.3 million in June 2018.

“Although the Diepsloot property was transferred to a new owner in June 2022, based on a sale agreement concluded in March 2022, R1.5 million of the proceeds from that sale were then used by the Mashambas to buy a new property at erf 2036 Dainfern Extension 19 and pay the transfer costs associated therewith.

“The Dainfern property was therefore partially purchased with the proceeds of the Diepsloot property,” Theron said.

He added that “secret profits that Lebelo and Mashamba earned from a supplier of Transnet for the benefit of themselves and/or their relatives, are in conflict with their duties and relationships of trust as employees of Transnet”. Theron further explained: “A bribe, kickback, gratification or gratuity that Mr Mphephu and/or Mr Khoncha paid to Mr Lebelo (via his family trust) and Mr Mashamba (via his wife’s company) was in return for their recommendation or approval of the appointment of Superfecta as a service provider to Transnet Property for lucrative contracts. Because Mr Mashamba received a kickback payment to purchase the Diepsloot property, and then applied the proceeds of the sale of that property partially to acquire the Dainfern property, the Dainfern property itself constitutes the proceeds of unlawful activities.”

According to SIU documents, Mashamba also received at least R4.5 million from BBDM.

READ: Electrical engineering company forces Limpopo municipality to pay R13.6 million

“BBDM paid R1 million towards the purchase by Mr Mashamba and his wife of a residential property at Monte Pollino on Sandton Road, Johannesburg. This property was the Mashambas’ main residence until they sold it to buy the Dainfern property. BBDM made five payments from June 25 2015 to February 16 2016, totalling R 3.5 million to a company owned and controlled by Mr Mashamba’s wife, Mrs Matlhodi Phillicia Mahlamba, Eva Looks.”

He noted that the bribes and kickbacks were in return for Mashamba’s recommendation of the BBDM lease with a large tenant installation allowance, the subsequent amendment of that lease to be in favour of BBDM that included a further tenant installation allowance under the amended lease.

READ: SIU to investigate alleged degree fraud at University of Fort Hare

“As he did with the kickback and secret profit he received from Superfecta, Mr Mashamba used part of the proceeds of the sale of a property in Beverly to purchase the new Dainfern property. A total of R590 898.43 from the sale of the Beverley property was used to purchase the Dainfern property,” the affidavit read.

The SIU added that because Mashamba used a portion of the proceeds of the sale of the Beverley property to acquire the Dainfern property, it too constitutes the proceeds of unlawful activities.

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