Former Transnet CEO Brian Molefe has played down the importance of a summons sent to him by Transnet's current board, claiming it is "frivolous" and was sent largely as an attempt to drum up media attention.
On Thursday morning at a media briefing in Pretoria Popo Molefe, the current chairperson of the state-owned rail agency, said Transnet had issued summons to a number of former top executives it says are implicated in financial mismanagement. These included Brian Molefe, as well as axed CEO Siyabonga Gama, ex-chief financial officer Anoj Singh, and others.
On Thursday Popo Molefe also said Transnet was reviewing a controversial contract for 1064 locomotives, as the company did not need all the trains. Popo Molefe, who was named chair of the Transnet board in May 2018, said Transnet would review contracts related to deal.
According to amaBhungane, the current Transnet chairperson also said Chinese rail company CRRC E-Loco Supply had agreed to repay R618m to Transnet, which constituted a 10% advance fee on a larger maintenance contract.
Brian Molefe, who left Transnet in 2015 to join Eskom, told Fin24 on Thursday that he did indeed receive a summons and the document was receiving his lawyers’ attention.
However, he seemed puzzled as to why he was being asked about the summons in question at this particular time.
"I did receive [the] summons some time ago. I don’t know why they are talking about it now. They have talked about it a long time ago. I commented about it and I have said it was frivolous. This is not new," he said.
"There is a tendency among people to want media attention," he said. "They go to lawyers, draft a piece of paper and serve summons[es], and make a big noise about it. Magda Wierzycka last year drafted a summons for the Helen Suzman Foundation to government ministers. It was sent to 79 people and nothing more came of it," he said.
Molefe is referring to a 2017 incident where the Helen Suzman Foundation and Sygnia CEO Wierzycka approached the courts to set aside a "series of unlawful, improper and corrupt exercises of public power", according to an application filed in at the North Gauteng High Court against some 75 respondents. These included then-president Jacob Zuma, then-Minister of Finance Malusi Gigaba, then-Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown, then-Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, and various Eskom executives including Anoj Singh and Brian Molefe himself.
"They [the summonses] were colourful and frivolous. But they did it to get media attention. We had to pay lawyers to respond to summonses and they don’t reply to our papers and it ends up in thin air. This is not something that happened yesterday.
"Why Popo Molefe continues to talk about it, I don’t know," he added.