TNPA CEO Pepi Silinga has decided to temporarily step away from his position to allow Transnet Group to conduct an investigation into corruption allegations without any perceived interference, and to safeguard the integrity of the process.

By Telegram

Pepi Silinga, the Chief Executive Officer of Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), has decided to take a temporary leave from his role amid ongoing investigations into potential acts of impropriety at Transnet.

Transnet, a state-owned entity entrusted with overseeing various transportation operations including rail, port, and pipeline management, is currently under scrutiny.

In a media statement released on Saturday, Transnet announced that it had approved Silinga’s request for a temporary absence.

“Transnet has received a number of allegations regarding activities at Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA). Transnet has a zero-tolerance stance on corruption, and malfeasance and views these allegations in a serious light.

“We have initiated an investigation into all allegations and have briefed an independent law firm to investigate, peruse all relevant documentation, interview individuals relevant to the investigation and provide Transnet with a report on its findings and recommendations. These investigations are at an early stage.”

The financially distressed freight and logistics organisation, which recently received a substantial R47 billion financial rescue from the National Treasury, has promptly designated Advocate Phyllis Difeto as the Interim Chief Executive of TNPA.

“Mr Pepi Silinga, Chief Executive of the Transnet National Ports Authority, has offered to take a leave of absence to allow the investigation to proceed without the perception of interference and to ensure that the integrity of the process is not compromised. Transnet has accepted the offer made by Mr Silinga,” reads the statement issued on behalf of acting Group Chief Executive, Michelle Phillips.

This decision comes as Transnet continues to navigate its challenges and work towards stabilizing its operations.

The entity has pledged to tackle the issue with utmost urgency and in strict compliance with the law and further gave an assurance that it will provide updates once the investigation is completed.

Three days ago, the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) demanded the immediate suspension of Silinga due to serious allegations of corruption and mismanagement. The union stated that it was inappropriate for him to remain in office while investigations into the allegations were ongoing.

In October, Satawu expressed profound disappointment at the lack of action taken in response to its disclosure of significant corruption allegations at the Transnet Department of Procurement, involving Silinga and his associates, amounting to millions of rands.

The union emphasised that, despite the well-documented financial challenges faced by the entire Transnet group in meeting its capital expenditure obligations, essential equipment necessary for the operation of the business, such as tug boats for marine services, had not been acquired.

Satawu further alleged that Silinga had been making irregular expenditures on non-essential items, such as a marquee tent, with TNPA reportedly purchasing the tent at an auction for R6 million without following proper procurement procedures.

The union argued that, instead of prioritising investments that would yield a return and improve the revenue stream of the struggling state-owned enterprise, Silinga’s focus has been on purchasing non-essential items, suggesting either incompetence or a high level of corruption.

Satawu further claimed that the procurement process for the tent was conducted after the deal had already been finalised and that the same tent had previously been owned by Silinga’s former employer, the Coega Development Corporation (CDC), with TNPA acquiring it through a confined procurement process approved by Silinga.

The primary accusation is that Silinga made an inappropriate decision by assigning the CDC to supervise the installation of security fencing enhancements at three prominent ports in the country: Durban, Richards Bay, and Saldanha Bay. Additionally, it is claimed that he allowed the overall expenses for these installations to escalate significantly from R76 million to a substantial R301 million.

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