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GEPF's Sanral bonds questioned

GEPF says Sanral's credit rating was the only reason they invested in the company.

Gauteng e-tolls. Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN - Managers of the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) on Wednesday said South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral)'s credit rating was the only reason they invested in the company.

In 2008, the pension fund bought Sanral bonds valued at an estimated R15 billion.

Fund managers and board of trustee members on Wednesday appeared before Parliament.

The Democratic Alliance's Tim Harris wasted no time in asking GEPF managers whether they knew about Sanral's business model.

"Were you aware that there was this e-tolling project coming down the line, and that would be a material source for the bonds that you were buying?"

The fund's John Oliphant said they were only motivated by the Sanral's AAA credit rating.

"Most of the investment decisions would incur around that credit rating."

Fund managers stressed the investment was made via the public investment corporation, adding they had no prior knowledge of e-tolling.

Meanwhile, Sanral was dealt a huge blow after a North Gauteng High Court granted an interdict to halt the introduction of the controversial Gauteng e-tolling system.

The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) took Sanral to court after it refused to consider alternatives to tolling.

The alliance is expected to come up with ways of raising funds for the imminent court case.

It is not yet clear whether Sanral will oppose the judgment.

Sanral says it is still studying the ruling and is not ready to announce its next step.

The Department of Transport and National Treasury are also studying the judgment.