Criminal gangs have stolen 10 million litres of fuel in the past year in South Africa, according to a report by the Sunday Times.
The gangs achieved this by targeting pieces of Transnet’s 3,200km underground pipelines, which transport petrol, diesel, gas, crude oil, and aviation fuel across the country.
The report added that the losses caused by the theft – which sees criminals creating holes in the pipelines and siphoning off fuel, in some cases into their own tankers – are valued at around R1 billion per year.
The latest news on Transnet follows a string of bad press at the state company in recent years.
In August, it was reported that the Special Investigating Unit had seized 35 vehicles, several upmarket properties, and a farm from a former Transnet Capital Projects executive.
Vehicles seized by the SIU included SUVs, sedans, bakkies, and an Italian sports car, while the properties comprised upmarket homes in gated communities.
This action was taken on the order of the Special Tribunal, which believes the assets are the proceeds of criminal activity, stating that the executive had allegedly engaged in corrupt activities in 2015 and 2016, when he was a senior executive at Transnet.
Overpaying for trains
In 2018, Transnet was also found to have overpaid R509 million for 100 locomotives, after switching a supply contract to a Chinese rail company.
The finding was made in a report commissioned by the National Treasury, and was part of an investigation into state capture.
Transnet board members – led by Brian Molefe at the time – were then asked to provide reasons why they shouldn’t be held accountable.
A probe by law firm Mncedisi Ndlovu & Sedumedi Attorneys further found that Transnet didn’t follow proper bidding and evaluation procedures for its contracts, and some executives were “negligent” or took “unlawful decisions.”
This followed a report earlier in 2018 which stated that Molefe helped inflate contracts by as much as R16 billion – with the money then split between four companies, including a Gupta-linked group.