A for­mer Transnet em­ployee who raised the alarm on dodgy deals has laid charges against the paras­tatal’s bosses for in­ter­cept­ing his emails

CityPress - - News - ABRAM MASHEGO abram.mashego@city­press.co.za

Transnet chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer (CEO) Siyabonga Gama and two se­nior ex­ec­u­tives are un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the po­lice for al­legedly spy­ing on col­leagues whom they sus­pected of blow­ing the whis­tle on cor­rup­tion. The reve­la­tions are con­tained in a con­fi­den­tial draft PwC re­port, which City Press has ob­tained. It also forms part of the ev­i­dence of a Hawks cor­rup­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tion, in­di­cates that Natasha Ram­narain, the as­sis­tant man­ager for foren­sic in­ves­ti­ga­tions at Transnet Freight Rail (TFR), was tasked with set­ting up “search pa­ram­e­ters” for all in­com­ing and out­go­ing emails for three em­ploy­ees.

The em­ploy­ees – Liketso Mal­imabe, Andy Pather and Harry Lekalakala – were part of TFR’s le­gal ser­vice di­vi­sion. Mal­imabe and Pather were sus­pected of feed­ing in­for­ma­tion to Lekalakala, a for­mer a TFR le­gal ser­vices se­nior ex­ec­u­tive who was sus­pected of hav­ing leaked de­tails of a “du­bi­ous” R25 mil­lion set­tle­ment to the me­dia.

Transnet spokesper­son Mo­lat­wane Likhethe con­firmed this week that the mat­ter be­tween Lekalakala and Transnet was be­ing dealt with by the Hawks.

“Transnet re­spects this process and re­serves its com­ment,” said Likhethe.

“It is, how­ever, worth men­tion­ing that af­ter his res­ig­na­tion, the gen­tle­man in ques­tion started a cam­paign of gen­er­at­ing a pool of emails which he sent to many peo­ple, in­clud­ing Transnet em­ploy­ees, with all sorts of al­le­ga­tions.

“This ha­rass­ment with emails went on for a while and, as a re­sult, Transnet had to tighten its pro­cesses in or­der to sift emails that were aimed at ha­rass­ing its staff – con­trary to what is re­ferred to as ‘in­ter­cep­tion’. The in­volve­ment of Mr Gama on this mat­ter is to­tally out of con­text.”

The drama started in 2014 af­ter Poly­zomba, a com­pany which had been awarded a rail main­te­nance con­tract by TFR, was awarded a R25 mil­lion set­tle­ment for work that had al­legedly not been done.

The com­pany was later found to have paid at least R300 000 to­wards the home of for­mer TFR head of le­gal and foren­sics, Ken­neth Diedricks, in the wealthy Jo­han­nes­burg sub­urb of Bas­so­nia.

The re­port, com­mis­sioned by Transnet but its sta­tus is not clear, con­tains the al­le­ga­tion of a wit­ness, who told PwC in­ves­ti­ga­tors that Diedricks re­ported di­rectly to Gama and al­legedly boasted in “meet­ings” that “no­body can com­plain to Mr Gama as Mr Gama is aware of ev­ery­thing that Mr Diedricks does”.

The set­tle­ment, the re­port found, was fa­cil­i­tated by Gama’s per­sonal lawyer, Themba Langa, who also acted for Poly­zomba.

Likhethe de­nied that Langa was Gama’s lawyer at the time, say­ing he last rep­re­sented Gama in 2011.

The PwC re­port was com­piled on Septem­ber 15 2015, but has only re­cently come into the pos­ses­sion of pros­e­cu­tors lead­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Diedricks. It was given to the Hawks last year, af­ter Lekalakala laid crim­i­nal charges against Gama for his al­leged il­le­gal in­ter­cep­tion of com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

How­ever, City Press un­der­stands that the case lay un­touched un­til Lekalakala laid a fresh com­plaint with po­lice watch­dog the In­de­pen­dent Po­lice In­ves­tiga­tive Di­rec­torate about its in­ac­tion. The case is now be­ing ac­tively in­ves­ti­gated.

The 350-page PwC re­port is also an ex­panded ver­sion of a pre­vi­ous re­port com­piled by the com­pany in March 2015. City Press also has this doc­u­ment.

More re­cently, how­ever, a le­gal opin­ion ob­tained by Transnet in Oc­to­ber 2016 – and com­mis­sioned on the ba­sis of the PwC re­port’s find­ings – found that the Poly­zomba set­tle­ment was un­law­ful and rec­om­mended that TFR be­gin re­coup­ing the money from the com­pany.

The most re­cent PwC re­port ac­cuses Gama and Transnet ex­ec­u­tives Ram­narain, Bram­ley May and Tham­sanqa Jiyane of il­le­gally in­ter­cept­ing the emails of Lekalakala and the two other em­ploy­ees.

“May in­formed us that he was re­quested by Jiyane to place the search pa­ram­e­ters on be­half of Gama, and that he met with Gama, Jiyane [and an­other em­ployee] ... to give doc­u­men­tary proof of the re­sults of the searches,” states the re­port.

“May states that he did in­form Ram­narain to com­plete the ser­vices re­quest form and ob­tain the nec­es­sary ap­proval.”

The re­port also states that Gama, who was then head of TFR, told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that Transnet’s then CEO, Brian Molefe, wanted to see the emails, which is why he asked May for them. It goes on to state that, ac­cord­ing to Transnet’s own poli­cies, “read­ing or send­ing mes­sages from an­other user’s ac­count, ex­cept un­der proper del­e­gate ar­range­ments, is a vi­o­la­tion of the [com­pany] pol­icy”.

Lekalakala con­firmed to City Press that he had laid charges against Gama, May, Ram­narain and Jiyane, adding that he “re­signed from Transnet in May 2014 af­ter be­ing put un­der tremen­dous pres­sure”.

“This hap­pened im­me­di­ately af­ter I raised a num­ber of queries and con­cerns re­gard­ing a set­tle­ment and a huge pay­out to Poly­zomba. This set­tle­ment was per­son­ally over­seen and signed off by Diedricks without my knowl­edge or in­volve­ment, de­spite the fact that the dis­pute with the ser­vice provider in ques­tion was of a con­trac­tual na­ture and thus fell within my area of re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

In 2015, City Press re­ported on the draft find­ings of a pre­vi­ous PwC re­port de­tail­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into al­le­ga­tions of ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties at TFR, in­clud­ing that staff mem­bers were in­tim­i­dated and tar­geted for rais­ing ques­tions about lu­cra­tive set­tle­ments and ten­ders.

Although the au­dit­ing firm found at the time that the spe­cific al­le­ga­tions against Gama were base­less, it did find ev­i­dence of sev­eral ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties at TFR, which hap­pened un­der Gama’s watch.

Both re­ports found that, be­sides ben­e­fit­ing from a pay­ment to­wards his house, Diedricks also planted ev­i­dence against TFR staff, threat­ened staff at meet­ings and may have leaked con­fi­den­tial com­pany in­for­ma­tion to com­pa­nies to help them po­si­tion them­selves for up­com­ing Transnet ten­ders.

PwC was con­tracted to in­ves­ti­gate af­ter a con­fi­den­tial dossier from anony­mous “TFR se­nior and ex­ec­u­tive man­agers” was sent to then CEO Molefe.

City Press learnt that Diedricks was al­lowed to re­signed from Transnet without fac­ing any dis­ci­plinary ac­tion.

This hap­pened im­me­di­ately af­ter I raised a num­ber of queries and con­cerns re­gard­ing a set­tle­ment and a huge pay­out to Poly­zomba. This set­tle­ment was per­son­ally over­seen and signed off by Diedricks without my knowl­edge

UN­DER FIRE Siyabonga Gama

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