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Former Transnet execs Gama, Pita, Ramosebudi and other accused granted bail in corruption case

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Former group CEO of Transnet Siyabonga. Gama (centre) and other co-accused at the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court. Picture: Kayleen Morgan
Former group CEO of Transnet Siyabonga. Gama (centre) and other co-accused at the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court. Picture: Kayleen Morgan
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27 May 13:12

FIRST TAKE | Arrest of Gupta lieutenants Gama, Woods a major leap forward for NPA, accountability

No one should doubt the significance of Friday’s news that two kingpins in the Guptas’ grand scheme to subjugate and strip Transnet of billions of rands were arrested and would appear in court on the same day.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has been severely criticised and pilloried by South Africans for the lack of major state capture prosecutions, despite the organisation steadily chipping away at the edifice of corruption constructed over the course of a decade by Jacob Zuma’s ANC. There have been asset seizures, some charges laid here and there – but nothing comes close to what has happened this week. 

On Wednesday, the NPA’s Investigative Directorate (ID) and the Hawks picked up former Tegeta Exploration and Resources director Ronica Ragavan, former Optimum Coal mine trustee Pushpaveni Govender and Joel Raphela, a former deputy director general at the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy.

They appeared in the Randburg Magistrate’s Court on charges of fraud, forgery, uttering, perjury and money laundering. Tegeta was of course the Guptas’ vehicle which sought to buy Optimum with money irregularly paid to it by Eskom.

And then on Friday, the big bombshells: Siyabonga Gama, Eric Wood, plus three others (Garry Pita, Phetolo Ramesebudi and Daniel Roy) were arrested and appeared in the Commercial Crimes Court in Palm Ridge.

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27 May 12:02

Woods granted R250 000 bail

Ramosebudi out on R25 000

Gama, Roy and Pita R50 000 

27 May 11:35

The magistrate for today's proceedings is Brian Nemavhidi.

27 May 11:31

Prosecutor Thembela Bakamela states that the state is not opposing bail. He suggests that the matter be postponed to 13 July.

27 May 11:22

Ramosebudi states that he will comply with all bail conditions if granted.

"I don't pose any threat to the safety of society and have no propensity to commit violence. My release will pose no threat to society."

27 May 11:18

Now we move on to Phetolo Ramosebudi:  He points out that he handed himself over to the police on 27 May.

"I am currently unemployed and have been unemployed since around November 2018."

27 May 11:15

Daniel Roy says he is prepared to pay a R50 000 bail

27 May 11:03

Pita: I am employed as a business consultant.  I hold a South African passport and another one of Portugal. 

Pita says he won't interfere with witnesses and does not know their identities. He states that he cooperated with the  Zondo Commission and will cooperate with the case

27 May 11:02

Gama's bail application affidavit reading has concluded. Now we move on to Garry Pita.

27 May 10:49

Gama:  I can't afford to be a fugitive of justice.

27 May 10:49

Gama: I have no intention to flee the Republic of SA. I am prepared to surrender my passport to the investigating officer if required to do so.

27 May 10:47

Gama tells court that he has 11 children.

27 May 10:46

Gama says affidavit: I have no intention to evade justice. I have no previous convictions

27 May 10:45

Statements of each of the accused are read by lawyers to support their bail application.

Eric Wood's affidavit just ended. Now it's Gama's.

Gama says he can manage to pay bail of R50 000. 

27 May 10:20

The accused are former group CEO of Transnet Siyabonga Gama, former acting group chief financial officer Garry Pita, ex-group treasurer Phetolo Ramosebudi, Regiments' Eric Wood and Trillian Asset Management director Daniel Roy. 

Gupta fixer Kuben Moodley also made a quick appearance in the dock 

27 May 09:39

Fin24 is in the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court waiting for the five to appear

27 May 09:39

Transnet has told Fin24 that it will not be commenting on the NPA process. 

27 May 08:57

BREAKING | Former Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama arrested

Five former Transnet officials have been arrested by the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority's Investigating Directorate on Friday morning on charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering.

News24 has established that two of the five include former Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama and Eric Wood from the Gupta-linked companies Regiments Capital and Trillian Capital Partners. 

The five are expected to appear in the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court following their arrest at the Brackendowns Police Station.They are also charged with contravention of the Public Finance Management Act. 

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27 May 08:57

Zuma, Gigaba and Molefe - all the people the Zondo Commission wants the NPA to investigate

The State Capture inquiry, in the second volume of its report, recommended that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and other law enforcement agencies institute further investigations, "with the view to the possible prosecution" of nearly 20 people for alleged corrupt activities. 

The second volume of the report was released on Tuesday and focused on corrupt activities at Transnet and Denel - both state-owned entities. 

News24 made a list of all the people the Zondo Commission's second volume singled out for further investigation and possible prosecution: 

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27 May 08:57

Big state capture win for NPA, as High Court overturns ruling unfreezing Gupta-linked assets

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has scored a major victory in its battle to take on state capture corruption – by overturning a Gauteng High Court ruling that unfroze R1 billion in assets allegedly linked to the looting of Transnet.

On Tuesday morning, a full bench of the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg ruled in favour of the NPA's challenge to the October 2020 ruling given by Judge Maletsatsi Mahalelo.

Mahalelo had found that then-Investigating Directorate head Hermione Cronje's failure to disclose "material facts", when she successfully applied for the freezing of assets belonging to the directors of Regiments Capital, was a basis to overturn that freezing order.

Those Regiments Capital directors – Niven Pillay, Litha Nyhonyha and Eric Wood – are all implicated in massive state capture corruption at Transnet. It is the State's case that Regiments Capital was unlawfully appointed as advisors to Transnet because they paid Salim Essa – a key Gupta family associate – 30% of the fees they were paid by the parastatal.

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27 May 08:57

Muthi and lies: Ex-Transnet CEO denies getting Gupta cash, cries witchcraft

Lies, fabrication and witchcraft: these are some of the allegations that dominated the line of defence used by a former Transnet CEO to reject the evidence presented by his former protection officer - who is known as Witness 2 - at the commission of inquiry into state capture on Monday.

Siyabonga Gama described the witness as someone who appeared to be driven by a vendetta against him, and who had been coached to give evidence that added "flavour" to his recollection of events - including the transportation of large amounts of cash between various points around Johannesburg, one of which was the Gupta family's Saxonwold compound.

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27 May 08:57

'Nope... Nope... Nope...': Gama quizzed at Zondo Commission on role in Transnet tenders

In a brief afternoon session of the Zondo Commission on Friday, former Transnet group CEO Siyabonga Gama said he was not, and could not have been, aware of all the loans Transnet had in its book, particularly those it had with Trillian leading the arrangements.

The line of questioning from commission evidence leader advocate Anton Myburgh focused on lucrative contracts at Transnet for the provision of locomotives as well as companies linked to the Gupta family that received massive paydays from such contracts.

Trillian formed one third of a trifecta of companies, including McKinsey and Regiments Capital, which were able to amass amounts of more than R3 billion in contracts they received from Transnet, often with no evidence of any work done.

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27 May 08:56

State Capture Inquiry puts Molefe, Singh and Gama at heart of Transnet 'racketeering enterprise'

The State Capture Inquiry has recommended that police investigate former Transnet CEOs Brian Molefe and Siyabonga Gama, and the freight rail operator's ex-chief financial officer Anoj Singh, for a laundry list of transgressions ranging from corruption and racketeering to fraud and negligence.

The second part of the inquiry's report - which deals with Denel and Transnet - was handed over to the director-general in the Presidency, Phindile Baleni, by the commission's secretary, Professor Itumeleng Mosala.

The first section of the report was given to President Cyril Ramaphosa in early January. The third and last section of the report will be handed over by month's end.

The report placed Molefe, Singh and Gama, among others, at the centre of what it described as the "Gupta racketeering enterprise" at Transnet that started in 2009. The three were the "primary architects and implementers of state capture at Transnet".

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27 May 08:55

Ex-CEO Gama tells Zondo he did not know about all Trillian's loan deals with Transnet

In a brief afternoon session of the Zondo Commission on Friday, former Transnet group CEO Siyabonga Gama said he was not, and could not have been, aware of all the loans Transnet had in its book, particularly those it had with Trillian leading the arrangements.

The line of questioning from commission evidence leader advocate Anton Myburgh focused on lucrative contracts at Transnet for the provision of locomotives as well as companies linked to the Gupta family that received massive paydays from such contracts.

Trillian formed one third of a trifecta of companies, including McKinsey and Regiments Capital, which were able to amass amounts of more than R3 billion in contracts they received from Transnet, often with no evidence of any work done.

Myburgh looked to pinpoint Gama to specific transactions with Gupta-linked companies to establish his level of involvement in those deals.

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