25 July 2024 | 12:06 PM

Transnet scandal: What role did Eskom’s new Mr Fix-it play?

Key Takeaways

Anoj Singh, Transnet’s chief financial officer, is celebrated for raising billions towards the state-owned entity’s infrastructure programme, which includes the acquisition of 1 064 new locomotives.

Now he is expected to perform greater miracles at Eskom, to which he has been seconded for six months. The utility is struggling to raise debt for new power stations to get the lights back on.

More pieces of the puzzle:

Singh’s alleged role when Neotel closed a R1.8?billion deal to provide Transnet with five years’ telecom services may give pause for thought. Neotel, its auditors said in correspondence seen by amaBhungane, paid a 2% “success fee” to a letterbox company, Homix, to secure the deal – or R36?million.

A further R25?million, apparently not yet paid, was promised to Homix to secure the related sale of Neotel assets to Transnet.

The auditors questioned whether Homix had brought actual value to Neotel’s negotiations with Transnet – code, perhaps, for a suspicion that the fees were kickbacks.

Individuals close to the negotiations between Neotel and Transnet have claimed that Transnet became inexplicably intransigent last December, when a pre-Christmas deadline for the conclusion of the R1.8?billion contract loomed.

During the stalled negotiations, they alleged, Singh met personally at least twice with Neotel representatives. After he had a one-on-one with Neotel chief executive Sunil Joshi, the latter allegedly asked his staff to make contact with Homix.

Once the “success fee” had been agreed with Homix, Singh allegedly signalled Transnet’s readiness to resume negotiations, which were swiftly concluded.

The individuals also allege that, in late February this year, Transnet had not yet paid Neotel for its January and February services. Neotel was told that Singh had blocked the payment. By that time, Neotel had not yet paid Homix its R36?million fee.

The issue was resolved when Transnet paid Neotel, which paid Homix.

Transnet, replying to questions sent to it and Singh this week, denied Singh was “party to Neotel’s actions relating to Homix” or that there was any factual basis for the allegations against him.

It said: “The issues you raise are normal operational decisions that [chief financial officers] deal with on a daily basis in the execution of their duties. In this case, however, we would like to point out that the delay you may have been referring to had nothing to do with Neotel’s suppliers [Homix], but was as a result of our normal operational issues and processes.”

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The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit initiative to develop investigative journalism in the public interest, produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for all our stories, activities and sources of funding.

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Before joining the amaBhungane team in 2017, Micah was the national coordinator for media freedom and diversity at the Right2Know Campaign. He holds a Masters in African Studies from Oxford University and a BA Honours in History from Wits University.

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