Transnet top brass fingered in alleged Gupta cash payments, Zondo hears

Former Transnet group chief executive officer Siyabonga Gama. Picture: ANA

Gama allegedly told him to pull out the plastic bag, which was full of cash, and started counting. It could have been as much as R1 million in cash, the witness said.

The second “mystery” witness to testify before the Zondo commission of inquiry on Thursday described how he drove then Group CEO at Transnet, Siyabonga Gama, to the Gupta compound in Saxonwold and to luxury hotels around Johannesburg to pick up large amounts of cash.

Chairperson of the commission Justice Raymond Zondo earlier forbade that the “mystery” witnesses’ identities be made public, and their voices were also altered on the microphone system.

Witness number 2 said he was employed as a driver and Close Protector Officer (CPO) for Siyabonga Gama when he was at Transnet Freight Rail and again when he moved to Transnet as Group CEO. He would drive Gama in a BMW X 5, an S 500, a Range Rover, and a Mercedes Benz SL 63.

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In answer to a question by advocate Paul Pretorius if he ever transported Gama on private trips, he answered: “Yes Chair I did”. He said he did not keep log books for the vehicles because these were private vehicles.

He then described how he used to transport Gama on different occasions to the Gupta’s residence in Saxonwold. He said he would drop him off and wait in the parking area for him. On many of these occasions he also saw Brian Molefe and Transnet Engineering chief executive Thamsanqa Jiyane at the Gupta property.

The witness recalled that once while he was waiting in Gama’s Range Rover he had a chat with Jiyane, who said to him in isiZulu that he had “become exposed to their shady dealings”.

A Gupta family member also approached him once and handed over a suitcase, and told him to put it in the back of the car.

He and Gama drove to a hotel where Gama met Jiyane, he said. Jiyane then handed him his own car keys, so he could take the suitcase from Mr Gama’s Range Rover to Jiyane’s white GL Class Mercedes Benz.

He said he opened the suitcase and it was “fully filled” with bundles of cash. He said he then zipped it close and placed it according to instructions.

On 13 June 2017 Gama asked him to collect a parcel from Salim Essa at Melrose Arch at the back of a hotel. He said he collected the plastic bag, secured it, and then drove out to pick up Gama at the entrance of the hotel.

They went to Gama’s house and took out the plastic bag, which was full of cash, and started counting. It could have been as much as R1 million in cash, the witness said, as he helped to count it as Gama separated the cash into two bundles.

Gama then gave the witness R50 000 in cash, which he regarded as “just a thank you” as he helped to count the money. They then dropped the one half of the counted money at a friend of Gama’s house, according to the witness, and took the other half to Gama’s house in Midrand.

The witness said Gama never asked for the money back and he used the money to build his residence.

Zondo wanted to know if the witness deposited the money into a bank account before using it, to which he replied that he did not.

The witness also recalled another occasion where they collected another bag of money from Essa in Melrose Arch, and they then drove to Sandhurst to a certain address.

He added that on the other occasion, himself and Gama met with Jiyane in Kyalami. He said they exchanged a box which looked like a wine box, but it didn’t seem there was wine inside that box, but notes.

The witness said that his relationship with Gama got strained after he was accused of witchcraft. He was allegedly caught on video sprinkling some muti in Gama‘s house, but he was never shown the video at any point.

Later he was summarily fired after a disciplinary hearing in his absence, but was later reinstated, he said.

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