JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – JANUARY 23: Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. Photo by Gallo Images/Sowetan/Veli Nhlapo)

Ex Transnet chair denies ordering payment of Gama’s legal fees

The inquiry heard from former Transnet board chairperson Mafika Mkhwanazi who testified on the reinstatement of the freight agency’s former chief executive Siyabonga Gama


JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – JANUARY 23: Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. Photo by Gallo Images/Sowetan/Veli Nhlapo)

The former chairperson of Transnet, Mafika Mkhwanazi has been on the offensive at the State Capture Inquiry, refuting a series of allegations levelled towards him while also conceding that certain decisions were not properly taken.

Mkhwanazi was on the hot seat at the inquiry on Monday, October 19, 2020, where he was grilled about the state freight agencies dodgy affairs, chief among them being the reinstatement of former group chief executive Siyabonga Gama.

He blatantly denied ever instructing Siyabulela Mapoma, former general manager: group legal services at Transnet Group Capital, to pay his 75% of the taxed legal costs.

Evidence leader Advocate Anton Myburg asked:

“Did you or did you not instruct Mr Mapoma to pay Mr Gama 75% of the costs that Transnet incurred at the High Court, isn’t this incredible?”

“No chair I don’t know why they are wrongly interpreting it like this,” Mkwanazi replied.

The proceedings chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo highlighted that the costs order could have amounted to between R800 000 and R1 million in total.

Gama’s R17 million payday

Gama was dismissed after he was found guilty of three counts of misconduct – which prompted him to take the matter up to the Transnet bargaining council.

Appearing via video link, Mkhwanazi admitted that he found it odd that the board still gave him his job back, despite being found guilty of the charges.

Gama was paid a whopping R17 million in back pay and legal costs from the company, following his reinstatement – to which Mkhwanazi expressed his shock after Myburg put it to him.

“I would like to comment that I was under the impression that the so-called Gama’s legal costs were far lower than this,” he said.

Mapoma told the commission the disgraced executive was actually supposed to pay Transnet his legal fees, however the settlement agreement ordered that the freight agency instead fork out the money for him.

“This was unusual and strange, to say the least. I found no rationality for this decision. I was reluctant to pay it but I was instructed to pay. I went to see Mr Anoj Singh [then Transnet CFO] to give me the go-ahead, and he agreed that I must pay and instructed my office to pay the money,” he said at the time.