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Transnet’s Singh forced Hatch Global to sign MOU, Zondo inquiry hears

Hatch Global project manager Henk Bester said that the company was due to be awarded a rail expansion, but it was held to ransom by a memorandum of understanding brought by the joint venture.

A screengrab of former managing director of rail at Hatch, Henk Bester, appearing at the state capture inquiry in Johannesburg on 20 October 2020. Picture: SABC/YouTube

JOHANNESBURG - The state capture commission has heard how Transnet CFO Anoj Singh forced engineering firm Hatch Global to partner with a company owned by Nalen Padayachee and Dave Reddy.

Hatch Global project manager Henk Bester said that the company was due to be awarded a rail expansion, but it was held to ransom by a memorandum of understanding brought by the joint venture.

He said that Rudie Basson told him that Singh had hand-picked Padayachee and Reddy's companies to be supplier development partners for the project.

Padayachee and Reddy told Bester that they were sent by number one, former President Jacob Zuma, for a contract to expand rail capacity between the Northern Cape and Eastern Cape from 5 million tons to 16 million tons.

READ: ‘Number one’ implicated at Zondo commission in Transnet contract, but who is it?

“Mr Basson said at the time that Mr Anoj Singh indicated that he wanted a specific company to be included as our supply development company and he mentioned the names of these two gentlemen and later that day, Mr Basson came back and said, ‘sign the damn thing’.”

Asked what he meant by "sign the damn thing," Bester said the MOU.

Bester said that the two sent him a memorandum of understanding to sign that made him uncomfortable and he forwarded it to Transnet and Transnet wouldn’t award the contract until the MOU was signed.

“So your understanding is, that was the only thing holding back the award of the confinement by Transnet to Hatch," the commission asked.

Bester responded: “In my own words, I understood that we were being held to ransom. Transnet is not going to approve the confinement unless we agree to the revised MOU.”

Hatch eventually signed the MOU with Reddy's company for phase one.

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