NATIONAL NEWS - The Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture has revealed that Swifambo Rail Leasing director, Auswell Mashaba, admitted to the commission that he paid R80 million to the ANC after his company was awarded a R3.5 billion contract by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to deliver locomotives in 2012.
The businessman defied summons to appear before the commission on Wednesday, following in the footsteps of former president Jacob Zuma who last week refused to comply with a Constitutional Court order to answer questions before the inquiry.
Mashaba’s lawyers wrote a letter to the commission stating that the summons issued for his appearance did not “constitute a lawful and legally binding document”.
The commission’s evidence leader advocate Vas Soni read from an affidavit Mashaba previously submitted to the inquiry in which he admitted to paying the ANC R80 million.
“I was forced to pay money to people who said they were collecting money for the ANC and I agreed to pay R80 million,” Soni said.
However, Soni said Mashaba indicated that he didn’t know if the ANC ever received the R80 million as the person he gave the money to had indicated that he never handed the money to the governing party.
Commission chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, lamented the fact that Mashaba’s lawyer did not put up any legal basis for disregarding the summons and instructed the secretary of the commission to lay a criminal complaint against him.
Zondo said the conduct of defying summonses without going to court was totally unacceptable and it would cause chaos in South Africa’s legal system.
Who is Swifambo Rail?
Swifambo Rail is behind the infamous “tall train” controversy. Under Lucky Montana – then CEO of Prasa – Swifambo Rail won a R3.5 billion tender in 2013 to supply locomotives but the rail agency ended up with trains that did not fit SA’s rail specifications.
In November 2018, the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that “the tender was procured through corruption” and that Prasa’s specifications for the new locomotives were “tailor-made for the benefit of Vossloh [Swifambo front company], and thus Swifambo”.