Madonsela asked to investigate e-tolling contracts
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has been asked by the Democratic Alliance (DA) to investigate the Gauteng e-toll collection contracts, including a possible link to suspected arms deal corruption.
Earlier this week labour movement Cosatu, which is vociferously opposed to tolling on the Gauteng freeways, made similar statements about the links between the companies.
According to the various reports Swedish Kapsch TrafficCom holds 40% of ETC while Austrian principal Kapsch has the remaining 25%. The Swedish arm was previously part of Swedish manufacturing company SAAB Aerospace and later became part of Kapsch AG.
Saab, which sold 28 Gripen jet fighters to SA in the arms deal, sold a subsidiary called Combitech Traffic Systems to Kapsch. Together with arms deal company BAE Systems, it formed a company called SANIP, which was the joint venture between Saab Aerospace and BAE Systems to fulfil their obligations under the Arms Deal Offset Programme, which has been revealed to be largely empty.
Saab president H'kan Buskhe admitted in a public statement on June 16 last year that R24m was paid by SANIP to former Defence Minister Joe Modise's right-hand man, Fana Hlongwane.
A subsequent City Press investigation revealed that Hlongwane was also paid as much as R200m by BAE Systems. Anti arms deal campaigner Terry Crawford-Browne has maintained that SANIP was set up with the specific purpose of paying bribes to leading South African officials.
In giving the background to his interdict against the e-tolls, Judge Bill Prinsloo criticised SANRAL for its secrecy on the contract with the Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) Consortium.
"There are also 35 sub-contracts with ETC, all with confidentiality clauses," Bloom said.
The DA submitted an application last year under the Promotion of Access to Information Act to get the contracts, but SANRAL has so far not complied.
It is also disturbing that 50% of the Black Economic Empowerment stake in ETC was sold for about R70m shortly after it was awarded the contract.
"Suspicion is high that politically connected people may have benefited from the toll companies contracted to SANRAL. Widespread public concern needs to be allayed by a full investigation by the Public Protector," Bloom said.
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