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State capture inquiry gears up to probe ex-Transnet CEO Brian Molefe's appointment

May 06 2019 14:22
Sibongile Khumalo

The circumstances around the 2011 appointment of former Transnet CEO Brian Molefe will be probed by the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture over the next two weeks.

The commission is investigating allegations of state capture, corruption and fraud. 

Molefe was appointed to head the state-run freight rail agency in February 2011. He was later seconded to power utility Eskom, controversially resigning in November 2016 after being implicated in then-Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's state capture report.

On Monday evidence leader, adv. Paul Pretorius, highlighted that Molefe's appointment had been announced by the defunct Gupta-owned New Age newspaper in December 2010 - three months before it occurred.

"In relation to this particular appointment there has been a great deal of controversy and evidence would be led concerning how Mr Molefe came to be appointed," said Pretorius.

He said the New Age newspaper had also correctly predicted other new appointments at Transnet. Earlier in the day Pretorius said the commission would also be investigating allegations of kickbacks to the Gupta family, and others. 

The Guptas have previously denied any wrongdoing.  

Transnet executives, including board chair Popo Molefe and Mohammed Mahomedy, who was recently appointed acting CEO, are also expected to testify on the management of the key state-owned entity. Mahomedy, a former acting group finance chief, replaced Tau Morwe. 

In January, Transnet said civil claims worth R1.3 bn had been served on individuals and companies involved in improper financial conduct, including Molefe. The inquiry will also hear about the impact of centralisation of power in decisions around capital expenditure and procurement.

"There is no doubt that money has been lost," said Pretorius.

"The direness of the situation within Transnet has been significantly compounded by the outsourcing of internal treasury, audit and other corporate functions to a related network with corrupt or allegedly corrupt interests."

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