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Martins: Guptas wanted Prasa tender despite not submitting proposal

Ben Martins said he was never under any pressure to award the Gupta family tenders during his short stint as Transport Minister.

A screengrab of former Transport Minister Ben Martins testifying at the state capture commission of inquiry on 2 July 2019.

JOHANNESBURG - Former Transport Minister Ben Martins said that Rajesh Tony Gupta insisted on being awarded a lucrative Prasa tender despite failing to submit a proposal during the bidding process.

Martins said that after his appointment as minister in 2012, he received numerous calls from Gupta, saying that the Prasa locomotive tender was not transparent and demanded a meeting.

Martins testified at the Zondo commission of inquiry on Tuesday.

Former Minister Ben Martins said that following the complaints by Gupta, he arranged a meeting with then Prasa CEO Lucky Montana to get to the bottom of the matter.

"I saw nothing untoward in arranging this meeting as its aim was to clarify and give answers to the questions that Gupta had posed. I did not at any stage ask Mr Montana to unduly, irregularly or illegally to assist Mr Gupta."

Unsatisfied with this response, Martins said that Gupta threatened to take legal action against Prasa and the department.

"The tender process had run its course. My response to Mr Gupta was that he was within his right to take whatever legal action he felt was necessary."

Martins said he was never under any pressure to award the Gupta family tenders during his short stint as Transport Minister.