Transnet boss Siyabonga Gama had stacks of cash everywhere: bodyguard

13 August 2020 - 18:03 By MAWANDE AMASHABALALA
Former Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama.
Former Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama.
Image: Robert Tshabalala

A former driver and bodyguard of erstwhile Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama on Thursday told the state capture commission how his boss had once received a briefcase full of cash from the Guptas.

“Witness 2" — who testified without revealing his identity for fear of his life, which he claimed had been threatened — laid out how he witnessed Gama moving this cash around.

According to him, Gama’s main accomplice in the moving of the cash was one Thamsanqa Jiyane, then Transnet Engineering CEO.

The bodyguard said on one occasion he drove Gama to the Gupta residence in Saxonwold.

“Mr Gama said to me [that] somebody will approach me with something [and] I must open the back side of the vehicle,” he said.

“In a space of about 10 minutes, a relative of the Gupta family walked to me and handed me a suitcase that I placed in the boot of the vehicle.”

Maslow Hotel

After the collection of the suitcase, said Witness 2, he drove Gama to the Maslow Hotel in Johannesburg, and dropped him at the entrance.

Jiyane walked in and Gama’s bodyguard followed him, at which point he spotted the two seated at the hotel bar. Gama called the bodyguard over, and Jiyane handed over his car keys and an instruction was issued.

“I went to the Range Rover [Gama’s vehicle] and took the suitcase to Mr Jiyane’s vehicle, which was parked closer to the entrance, it was a white Mercedes GL class. I opened it up and inside the suitcase there were stacked bundles of cash. The top layer contained R50 notes and R100 notes,” he said.

“The bag was fully filled.”

African Pride Hotel

On several occasions, said the bodyguard, he had dropped off Gama at the African Pride Hotel. He would then be instructed to drive to the other side of the hotel, where there were residential apartments, to meet someone who would hand over plastic bags.

Over time, the bodyguard said, he got curious and investigated who this guy was and found out when he saw him on the news that it was infamous Gupta associate Salim Essa.

He said the plastic bags contained cash.

Melrose Arch and Midrand

On June 13 2017, Gama and his bodyguard collected a bag from Essa at Melrose Arch. From here they drove to Gama’s residence in Bryanston. Gama opened the bag, he said, and started counting cash.

“I observed him splitting the cash into two, and later handed me R50,000. I used the R50,000 for myself on the project of building my residence,” said the bodyguard.

“The rest of the money, I presume, could have been R1m because in the calculation when he was dividing the stacks I assisted him in the calculating it. He placed some of it in a sports bag and took it back into the residence and the remainder we took it with to his residence in Midrand.”

Several other similar interactions with Essa took place, he alleged.

On one event I was conducting the maintenance of his vehicle at his residence in Midrand. I discovered R200 notes in the boot concealed in the spare wheel compartment. It was not more than R100,000.”

Centurion

“On April 20 2017, there was an official meeting in Centurion that was initiated by the former office of the minister then. There were CEOs of SOEs and upon arrival I dropped him off, went and parked the car, conducted an inspection and discovered at the back of the Range Rover in a black medical kit bag there were R200 notes. Again it was R100,000,” said the witness.

N17 Highway

Witness 2 further testified that on one occasion, Gama sent him to fetch someone at Woodmead. He was then instructed to drive him to the N17 highway in Ekurhuleni.

When the bodyguard got there, he said, Gama was with Jiyane and the latter handed over a package to Gama, which “through experience and norm I could tell it was cash”.

The witness said his life has been under threat since he started spilling the beans on Gama’s alleged shenanigans.

“On two occasions I noticed drones by my residence. I have had texts sent to me, threatening me,” he said.

His testimony has concluded.

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