Hawks probing four criminal corruption cases at Transnet

The four criminal matters were reported to the Hawks between October 2012 and December 2016 by Transnet. (Karl Prinsloo/Bloomberg)

The four criminal matters were reported to the Hawks between October 2012 and December 2016 by Transnet. (Karl Prinsloo/Bloomberg)

Priority crime investigating unit the Hawks is probing at least four separate potential criminal matters related to alleged corruption at Transnet.

Acting Hawks head Yolisa Matakata told parliamentary watchdog the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) that it is also investigating matters related to “state capture” at Transnet.

The committee is meeting to probe corporate governance at the state-owned enterprise, as well as quiz the board as to why it didn’t show up to give evidence at a previous committee meeting.

Matakata said she did not at present want to give a report on these “state capture” investigations, implying that doing so would tip off some of the suspects.

The four criminal matters were reported to the Hawks between October 2012 and December 2016 by Transnet.

Four cases under the spotlight

The earliest case, which dates from 2012, involves alleged tender bid price inflation for a R123-million security tender.

According to the Hawks’ Brigadier Zama Basi, three bids were inflated. One tender bid was increased over 500% from R12-million to R74-million. Basi said this case was “96% finished”.

The second case involves a kickback of R430 000 a Transnet executive allegedly received for promoting the interest of a company he had a relationship with. This tender amounted to some R430-million.

This matter was lodged with the Hawks in November 2013.

Basi did not name the company or the executive. He said the matter had been before the court, and was then withdrawn.

It is now again with the prosecuting authority.

It was not immediately clear why two separate figures were being quoted, and the committee chose to move on to other matters.

The third criminal investigation concerns a kickback of about R300 000 allegedly paid to an executive who signed off on a five-year contract to upgrade track panels on a railway in Empangeni in KwaZulu-Natal.

The fourth investigation involves a Transnet employee who allegedly colluded with a service provider who was working on servicing gas pipes in Middelburg, Mpumalanga.

“It is alleged the Transnet official received a kickback of R7-million,” said Basi.

Asked why some of the investigations into Transnet have not yet been finalised, Basi said the issues are complex.

He said that the search and seizure of documents, advocated by some MPs from the committee to speed things up, is a “last resort”.

‘Complexity is not an excuse’

Scopa chair Themba Godi also said he is concerned that the investigations are taking so long, especially that of the alleged tender bid price inflation.

“I am not getting a sense of anything being concluded,” said Godi, adding that the Hawks’ response of “complex” is not sufficient to explain delays.

“This complex thing, we must actually take it out of our discourse. You mustn’t use complex as an excuse.”

Speaking about the length of investigations in general, Matakata said the investigative unit has to source forensic investigations from external companies.

She added that the departure of top-level staff has led to some investigations being stretched out. She also conceded that some staff members are less than stellar at investigating wrongdoing.

“Some of our members are not doing their bit,” she said.

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