Scopa asks Transnet to account for what has happened to whistleblowers

Cape Town - Members of Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) have asked the leadership of Transnet to update the committee on the status of employees who have blown the whistle against corruption.  

“Are they still in the employ of Transnet? What has happened to them?” asked ANC MP Nthabiseng Khunou during a committee meeting on Tuesday. 

“We need to have a report that these were the whistleblowers and what has happened to them.”

Khunou did not name which whistleblowers she was referring to, or which cases they were involved in. 

Transnet officials and board members were appearing before the committee to give evidence on tender processes, corporate governance, and why the board didn't show up to give evidence at a previous committee meeting.

Earlier the Hawks had provided an update on cases of suspected corruption they were investigation at Transnet. 

In response to the requests for information on whistleblowers, Transnet group chief executive Siyabonga Gama alleged that some were not as innocent as they claimed. 

“This is quite important, I think,” he said. He said some of them had become whitleblowers after facing disciplinary action and having quit Transnet.  

He noted they had not blown the whistle against corruption when they were still employees of the state-owned enterprise, which he said they could have done via its toll-free corruption hotline. 

“Some of those that have come up in recent months are employees who are being pursued by Transnet for transgressions. When they left Transnet, they become whistleblowers,” he added.  

He did not say who he was referring to.

Supply chain management  

The Transnet board and management were critisised by MPs for deviations from tenders, and not putting all contracts out to open tender.  

“Officials can’t come here and play with public representatives,” said ANC MP Vincent Smith.

MPs claimed Transnet sometimes waited until the last minute to put out tenders, in the knowledge that only certain firms would be able to secure them. 

At other times contracts were extended multiple times.  

Gama acknowledged Transnet needed to find a way to reduce the number of deviations form its tender contracts, which have run into tens of millions of rand.   

“The management and the board will continue to endeavour to [make sure] that there is a reduction,” he said.  

He said Transnet had a "deficiency" in contract management. “We [will] continue to take steps that contract management improve."

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