Special Tribunal freezes former Transnet execs' luxury properties, pension benefits

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  • The Special Tribunal, which adjudicates on civil matters arising from SIU probes, has frozen assets linked to former Transnet executives - namely five luxury properties and nearly R2 million in pension benefits. 
  • A scathing judgment noted millions in kickbacks received from two service providers.
  • SIU head advocate Andy Mothibi has called the order "consequence management". 
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The Special Tribunal has ordered that five luxury properties in gated estates - as well as pension benefits worth some R1.8 million – linked to former Transnet executives and their spouses must be frozen, pending the outcome of an application to have them forfeited to the state.

The order was issued by judge Lebogang Modiba on Monday.

It bars former property chief executive Thabo Lebelo, his wife Alletta Mokgoro Mabitsi, as well as former regional manager Phathutshedzo Mashamba and his wife Matlhodi Phillicia Mashamba from selling, leasing, donating or transferring title their luxury properties in Rosebank and Deinfern. The luxury properties are now under the care of a curator.

The Transnet Retirement fund may also not pay out or transfer any benefits it holds that may be owed to the respondents.

The Special Tribunal adjudicates on civil matters arising from investigations by the Special Investigations Unit. Its job is to recover public funds lost to corruption, fraud and illicit money flows.

In a statement on Tuesday, the SIU and Transnet said the properties were alleged to be funded by "unlawful activities", funded by money received from service providers contracted by Transnet. 

SIU head advocate Andy Mothibi referred to the order as "consequence management".

The luxury properties are in gated estates in Rosebank and Dainfern, Gauteng, respectively.

A golf estate property in Dainfern offers access to 24-hour guards, a clubhouse with restaurant and conference facilities, squash courts, swimming pools, tennis courts and a range of activities including karate. Prices on properties in Dainfern currently for sale range from around R4 million to R35 million for a mansion with five bedrooms, five bathrooms and "staff quarters".

The SIU and Transnet approached the Special Tribunal following an investigation by the SIU, which found that the two Transnet executives appeared to have received unlawful financial benefits worth approximately R10 million from Transnet service providers Superfecta and BBDM Bros Advertising Agency (BBDM), the statement said. 

Superfecta has been a supplier of electrical and maintenance services to Transnet Property from 2016, while BBDM obtained a long-term lease of Transnet Property’s Carlton Skyrink Building in 2015.

Between February 2016 to August 2018, Superfecta earned over R64 million in payments from Transnet as a result of its business with Transnet Property. BBDM was paid tenant installation allowances totalling over R73 million from March 2015 to June 2018.

"The executives allegedly used unlawful financial benefits to acquire luxury properties on behalf of Trusts administered by themselves and their spouses," the SIU and Transnet said.

According to the judgment, Superfecta "gifted or donated" three apartments and an exclusive-use balcony area in Rosebank, Johannesburg to Lebelo, while Mashamba received R2 million from an erstwhile Superfecta director. These funds paid for another property, which was sold, and the proceeds funded the Dainfern property. 

The judgment added that Mashamba received "at least" R4.5 million from BBDM.

"The properties and payments constitute and/ or were acquired with secret profits that Mr Lebelo and Mr Mashamba earned from a supplier of Transnet, for the benefit of themselves and/or their relatives, in conflict with their duties andrelationships of trust as employees of Transnet; and bribes, kickbacks, gratification orgratuity that Superfecta and BBDM paid Mr Lebelo and Mr Mashamba (through MsMashamba’s company) in return for their recommendation or approval of the appointment of Superfecta and BBDM as a service providers to Transnet Property for lucrative contracts," it read.

Mashamba was suspended from his position as Regional Manager: Coastal in 2022, pending the SIU’s investigation.

Lebelo resigned with immediate effect on 28 November 2018, pending a disciplinary enquiry.

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