Transnet's Gama slams dismissal as 'unlawful smokescreen'

Transnet is abusing its power by announcing his dismissal and he is considering legal steps against the entity, embattled CEO Siyabonga Gama told Fin24 on Monday evening.

He further accused the entity of believing it was above the law.

Speaking to Fin24 by phone on Monday evening – the day Transnet had reportedly said in a letter would be Gama's last in his position – Gama confirmed a letter had been sent to him directing him to report to work, collect his belongings and return Transnet property.

However, Gama dismissed the letter as a "smokescreen", saying he had responded through his lawyers to say the letter and its directives were unlawful.

"I did receive, late last night, a letter to that effect.

"During the course of today I did inform Transnet that what they were saying was in fact unlawful and what they were asking me to do could not be done.

"A court order on Friday indicated that parties should refer this to arbitration," Gama said.

Gama said he indicated to Transnet that the letter sent to him was "in contravention of an order of the Labour Court, and continues to constitute a breach of my employment contract".

He said his lawyers sent a letter to Transnet’s attorneys on Friday asking that the arbitration process commence.

"We gave Transnet until Wednesday to agree, and instead they gave a letter purporting to dismiss me.

"As of now I am waiting for a response to Transnet from my letter. If I do not receive one I will be compelled to take the matter back to the courts," said Gama.

Gama told Fin24 Transnet were bypassing the agreed process of addressing his employment when he was formally notified to give reason why he should not be dismissed.

"That letter is a smokescreen. They indicated that they had already taken a decision before then that they would dismiss me. It was elected that I would have a fair hearing, which is why I was initially suspended. During the process, the process changed, and this dismissal came about," he said.

Gama said he reported for duty on Monday. However, he said he would not be drawn to comment on what transpired during his time at work, or if he complied with the directives of the letter.

"I went to work. That letter is a breach of my employment terms. It’s not necessary to go into what happened when I went to work and the drama of work," he said.

Transnet chair Popo Molefe told Fin24 on Sunday that Gama's contract had been terminated.

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