Molefe denies knowing why Gama was paid R17m in legal costs despite losing case

Former Transnet CEO Brian Molefe told the state capture commission that he received a recommendation from his legal team and he approved it.

A screengrab of former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe appearing at the state capture inquiry on 2 March 2021. Picture: SABC/YouTube

JOHANNESBURG - Former Transnet CEO Brian Molefe said that he did not know why Siyabonga Gama was paid R17 million in legal costs when he had lost a court bid challenging his dismissal.

Molefe told the state capture commission that he received a recommendation from his legal team and he approved it.

Gama had been fired for serious misconduct after defying a board directive and awarding an R800 million contract for refurbishing locomotives to an international manufacturer even though the board gave strict instructions for the work to be done by Transnet's rail engineering division.

But, Gama concluded a contract with an overseas manufacturer that had to set up new operations.

The former head of legal, Siyabulela Mapoma, told the commission that Transnet had a good case against Gama but board chair Siyabulela Mkhwanazi decided to settle.

Molefe said that he just signed.

“If you look at the recommendation Chair, it says: ‘Based on the motivation above, I recommend that the contribution to the legal fees must be paid as per agreement’. So there was nothing to argue if indeed it was per the settlement agreement.”

Molefe also said that he did not know that Salim Essa’s wife was a director of a company that Transnet ceded a supplier contract to.

The state capture commission heard that Essa’s wife, Zeenat Osmany, was a director of Zestilor, one of the companies that benefited from its contracts.

Essa was an associate of the Gupta brothers.

“Chairperson if it was indeed happening I’m concerned,” said the former CEO of Transnet.

Molefe concedes there were things that he didn't know were happening.

Advocate Anton Myburgh said: “It seems corruption was within the organisation. How many times have we referred to Mr Essa? “

Molefe said that he did notice that the was corruption with Transnet.

“It's a lot of times; T-Systems is contracting with a party that Mr Essa is a contractor, you are ceding a contract where Mr Essa’s wife is a director,” continued Advocate Myburgh.

In other cases, Molefe intervened to change McKinsey’s partner from Letsema to Regiments and revoked an IT contract awarded to Neotel and gave it to T-Systems.

Download the Eyewitness News app to your iOS or Android device.