/ 29 August 2022

Molefe, Singh released on R50 000 bail in Transnet R93m corruption case

Accused Molefe 6188 Dv
The two Transnet executives appeared in court along with Regiments Capital directors Niven Pillay and Litha Nyhonyha. Photos Delwyn Verasamy

Former Eskom and Transnet executives Brian Molefe and Anoj Singh were released on bail of R50 000 at the Palm Ridge specialised commercial crimes court on Monday in relation to a fraud and corruption case involving the state logistics company. 

They appeared alongside former Regiments Capital directors Niven Pillay and Litha Nyhonyha. The state did not oppose bail for any of the accused, who handed themselves over to police earlier in the morning. 

The case was joined to that of former Transnet chief executive Siyabonga Gama, former chief financial officer Garry Pita, group treasurer Phetelo Ramosebudi, Regiments partner and former Trillian executive Eric Wood and Trillian Asset Management director Daniel Roy. They were arrested in May and made their second appearance on Monday, alongside Gupta associate Kuben Moodley. 

The charges against Molefe, Singh, Pillay and Nyhonyha pertain to the Regiments Capital and Trillian Capital corruption scandal, in which both companies were paid a fee in excess of R90-million for securing a R30-billion club loan for Transnet to purchase diesel and electric locomotives in 2015.

Anoj Singh

State prosecutor Thembela Bakamela told the court he would be content with bail of R50 000 for the four additional accused, because “most” of the six initial accused had been released on the same amount. 

Pillay has an outstanding matter for which he is already out on bail, but has applied for a review of that. He thus appeared under schedule six, meaning he had to prove “exceptional circumstances” as to why he should be released on bail. 

His attorney, Ulrich Roux, told the magistrate, Emmanuel Magampa, that his client had made provision for R50 000 bail, and that because the state was not opposed, along with reasons given in his application affidavit, he was eligible. 

Molefe’s legal representative, Mpho Molefe, told the court that his client was a pensioner and had only managed to raise R20 000 towards bail. The rest would have to be raised from family and friends, he said. “He earns roughly R12 000 per month.” 

Prior to this, while reading out Molefe’s application affidavit, the advocate had told the court that Molefe received a pension of R52 000 a month. The R12 000 in earnings was a result of Molefe being a director at a logistics company. 

While testifying before the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture, Singh was confronted with evidence that Regiments based its tenders submitted to Transnet on confidential memos he sent to Molefe.

The cost of the controversial acquisition of 1 064 locomotives by the state-owned freight and logistics company in a deal in which the costs rose from R38-billion to R54.5-billion as companies pledged to pay the Gupta family R9-billion in kickbacks.

Singh was grilled on the cost escalation when he appeared before the Zondo commission. He said he was not familiar with the acceptable profit margins on locomotives, hence Transnet relied on the advice of consultants in the negotiations.

For the same reason, he said he was unable to detect that the contract price had been so heavily inflated that it allowed kickbacks of 21%. 

It is expected that these will not be the last state capture charges Singh and Molefe face.

Both are suspected of enabling the acquisition of the Optimum Coal Mine by the Guptas’s Tegeta Resources to set the company to secure coal contracts from Eskom, which proved  ruinous for the power utility.

And both have denied testimony by former staff members that they received piles of cash from the family.

Their arrests had been anticipated for months.

In court on Monday, counsel for Moodley and other accused complained that their clients had been prejudiced because the case had been delayed extensively to allow for the joinder of further accused. 

The matter was postponed to 14 October. It was mentioned in court that more suspects are expected to be arrested on the same charges.