Transnet ex­ec­u­tive guns for Popo Molefe

Sus­pended exec takes firm, board chair to high court

Sunday World - - Front Page - By Aubrey Mothombeni moth­ombe­nia@sun­day­world.co.za

Transnet board chair­per­son Popo Molefe and the lo­gis­tics paras­tatal have been slapped with a defama­tion law­suit amount­ing to R800 000 by one of its sus­pended ex­ec­u­tives.

Tham­sanqa Jiyane, sus­pended chief of­fi­cer for ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing of Transnet Engi­neer­ing, filed pa­pers in the South Gaut­eng High Court in Johannesburg this week claim­ing Molefe, who was ap­pointed by pub­lic en­ter­prise min­is­ter Pravin Gor­dan to lead the board, had de­famed him in a state­ment re­leased to the me­dia.

At the heart of the le­gal bat­tle, ac­cord­ing to Jiyane’s par­tic­u­lars of claim, is al­le­ga­tions that the Transnet ex­ec­u­tive was im­pli­cated in in­ves­ti­ga­tions com­mis­sioned by the board on an ir­reg­u­lar Transnet ten­der which es­ca­lated to R54bn.

Ac­cord­ing to the me­dia state­ment an­nexed to the pa­pers, Molefe had an­nounced that Jiyane and his col­league Lindiwe Mdlet­she, a se­nior man­ager for strate­gic sourc­ing at Transnet Freight Rail, were served with for­mal no­tices of the in­ten­tion to place them on pre­cau­tion­ary sus­pen­sion but failed to con­vince the board in their rep­re­sen­ta­tions.

“The board con­cluded that rep­re­sen­ta­tions by the em­ploy­ees were im­plau­si­ble and that their con­tin­ued pres­ence at Transnet is likely to hin­der and prej­u­dice fur­ther foren­sic in­ves­ti­ga­tions that the board has in­sti­tuted.

“Fur­ther charges against the im­pli­cated par­ties in­clude the with­hold­ing of com­pany in­for­ma­tion that is cru­cial and rel­e­vant to the lo­co­mo­tives ten­der from the foren­sic in­ves­ti­ga­tion, not co-op­er­at­ing with in­ves­ti­ga­tors and re­fus­ing to hand over com­pany prop­erty in the form of lap­tops, mo­bile phones and other de­vices,” reads the state­ment.

In his ap­pli­ca­tion to the court, Jiyane stated: “The of­fend­ing state­ments, in the con­text of the me­dia state­ment, are defam­a­tory of the plain­tiff in that they were in­tended to mean, and were un­der­stood by read­ers of or­di­nary in­tel­li­gence to mean, that:

● It is prob­a­ble that the plain­tiff’s con­duct in re­la­tion to the award­ing of the 1 064 lo­co­mo­tives ac­qui­si­tion ten­der was im­proper and un­law­ful;

● It is prob­a­ble the plain­tiff has ben­e­fited fi­nan­cially from the award­ing of the 1 064 lo­co­mo­tives ac­qui­si­tion ten­der;

● The plain­tiff is likely to hin­der and prej­u­dice the foren­sic in­ves­ti­ga­tions that the board has in­sti­tuted into the award­ing of the 1 064 lo­co­mo­tives ac­qui­si­tion ten­der.

Among other in­sin­u­a­tions by the state­ment, ac­cord­ing to Jiyane, is that it could be un­der­stood to mean that he was dis­hon­est, cor­rupt and lacked moral fi­bre.

He said the state­ment was is­sued with the in­ten­tion to de­fame and to in­jure his rep­u­ta­tion. “As a re­sult of the defama­tion, the plain­tiff has been dam­aged in his rep­u­ta­tion and has suf­fered dam­ages in the sum of R800 000,” read the pa­pers.

The pa­pers show that Molefe and Transnet were in­structed to re­tract the state­ment and to is­sue an apol­ogy to Jiyane, but al­legedly failed to do so de­spite re­ceiv­ing a let­ter of de­mand.

As a re­sult, Jiyane in­sti­tuted the ac­tion against Molefe and Transnet.

Molefe said: “If those peo­ple have is­sues with me, they will serve me [with the court pa­pers] and not the me­dia. Un­til then I have no com­ment.”

Jiyane’s lawyer Nic­qui Galak­tiou said: “The pur­pose of the sum­mons arises from the in­cor­rect, false and defam­a­tory re­marks in a me­dia state­ment is­sued on 6 Septem­ber 2018 by Dr Molefe about Mr Jiyane.

“When re­quested for a re­trac­tion and apol­ogy, Dr Molefe failed and re­fused to do so.”

Transnet spokesper­son Mo­lat­wane Likhethe said: “Transnet is not aware of any such ac­tion hav­ing been in­sti­tuted as no pa­pers were served on it.

“The chair­per­son is cur­rently out of the coun­try and we don’t know whether such pa­pers were served on him per­son­ally.”

“The pur­pose of the sum­mons arises from the in­cor­rect, false and defam­a­tory re­marks in a me­dia state­ment...”

/ Pux­ley Mak­gatho

Transnet board chair­per­son Popo Molefe faces a law­suit.

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