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Durban business raided as Transnet contracts face scrutiny

The Hawks have conducted a series of raids on a Durban engineering-supply company as part of an investigation into bribes allegedly paid for a R160-million tender at Transnet.

Members of the Hawks’ clean-audit unit conducted at least three raids on the office of contractor Paradime Industries in Hillcrest, during August as part of the probe into the three-year contract to supply machinery and equipment, which is still ongoing.

Paradime also has contracts with the South African National Defence Force to supply ration packs and makes accommodation booking for the South African Police Service. It also provided Eskom and the department of transport with engineering machinery and consumables.

The investigation is understood to be one of several initiated at Transnet as part of a clean up of the public entity. More than 10 former executives and former board members have been called to testify at the Zondo commission into state capture.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has also conducted a number of its own investigations into Transnet procurement after a presidential proclamation in 2018. It has seized assets from current and former executives in the process.

According to a highly placed source, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal, Transnet officials were on several occasions paid amounts ranging from R20 000 to R80 000, at a Johannesburg hotel. 

During one of the alleged exchanges, a surveillance team from the Hawks is said to have recorded the payments being made after being tipped off by a whistleblower.

“The concern at this stage is that the matter will not go any further,” the source said. There is a lot of corruption in procurement [at Transnet] at several levels still. The same officials who have taken bribes, in this case, are in charge of a lot of tenders. If money is being paid in this case, how many others must  there be?”

The warrant issued for one of the raids, which the Mail & Guardian has seen, gives the investigation team powers to search for, and seize, all contracts between Paradime Industries and Transnet, together with all the company’s computers, storage drives and cellphones.

The clean-audit unit, accompanied by a team from the national digital forensic laboratory, is understood to have raided the Paradime offices, concerning contracts awarded between 2018 and August 2020.

Jennifer Anthony, the managing director of Paradime, did not respond to calls for comment.

Hawks spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Philani Nkwalase confirmed that a raid had taken place at a “service provider” as part of an investigation into corruption regarding procurement processes at Transnet.

A Transnet spokesperson said they had referred the matter to the relevant authorities for investigation but declined to comment further.

Addressing a parliamentary briefing earlier this month, Transnet chief executive Portia Derby said that a law firm had been appointed last year to oversee dealing with corruption cases within the entity. 

At the same time, the SIU had also conducted several direct investigations.

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper
Storyteller.

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