Transnet execs will 'have chance to be heard' - Molefe

The three Transnet executives served with suspension notices – including CEO Siyabonga Gama – will need to give reasons why they should not be suspended, board chairperson Popo Molefe has said.

In an interview with 702's Karima Brown, Molefe said the three officials would have the "opportunity to be heard".

Gama, chief procurement officer Thamsanqa Jiyane and supply chain manager Lindiwe Mdletshe were served with suspension notices ahead of the state-owned company's Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, following investigations by Werksmans Attorneys and MNS Attorneys.

Fin24 previously reported that MNS would be conducting the disciplinary hearings.

According to Business Day, the board opted to serve the notices based on the legal advice they had received.

"We live in a Constitutional democracy, we believe in the rule of law. It is required that when you suspend a person, you give them the opportunity to be heard," Molefe said.

The officials were investigated for alleged violations of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) as well as unlawful conduct and the questionable procurement of over 1 000 locomotives.

Gama also allegedly misrepresented certain information to the board, breaching section 75.3 of the Companies Act, Molefe said. The information in question related to the locomotives deal that increased in price to R54.5bn from R38.6bn.

In the interview with Brown, Molefe confirmed that "some of the offences" in the investigation regarding the officials were linked to questions of state capture.

However, he would not be drawn on the specifics of the officials' alleged conduct, saying they should still be given the chance to defend themselves.

"I do not think it would be proper to ventilate those reasons too early, before the actual disciplinary hearing starts," he said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan had briefed Parliament on the state of state-owned enterprises.

Gordhan had spoken of improvements required at Transnet, but also mentioned improvements that had already taken place. He stressed the importance of the company to South Africa.

'We are a straight company'

Asked what the next step would be if the board did not accept the officials' explanations, Molefe did not clarify.

"We are a straight company that uses the taxpayer's money," he said.

"Directors have fiduciary responsibilities and duties. We cannot allow the taxpayer's money to be used in a manner that disregards due process."

He did, however, describe Transnet as a "great company with great potential".

When Molefe was announced as chair of Transnet's interim board, Gama welcomed his arrival.

Molefe promised at the time to take an "unflinching stance" against corruption of any kind.

Speaking to Fin24 on Wednesday evening, Transnet spokesperson Nompumelelo Kunene said she was not yet able to comment on the suspension notices as she had not spoken to the board since its meeting.

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