Eskom Inquiry: Lucky Montana
30 January 2018
Chairperson: Ms D Rantho
Submission by Mr Lucky Montana
The Eskom Inquiry heard a submission from Mr Lucky Montana, former CEO of State-Owned Enterprise (SOE), Prasa. Mr Montana stated that he had been called to give evidence at the inquiry following the media briefing that Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises and former Minister of Transport, Ben Martins, convened in response to the testimony at this inquiry by Suzanne Daniels, former Legal Advisor at Eskom.
Ben Martins, in an attempt to distance himself from the Guptas, stated to the media that when he met with the Guptas on one occasion, he had met them with Mr Montana in 2012. Mr Montana said Mr Martins wanted to create the impression that Mr Montana had brought Rajesh ‘Tony’ Gupta and Duduzane Zuma to his Ministerial home in Pretoria, when in fact it was actually the other way around. Mr Montana stated that this was not fair, not truthful and very uncomradely as it would raise questions about Mr Montana’s relationship with the Guptas.
What actually occurred on 12 September was that Mr Montana had been called to Minister Martins home in Pretoria in an informal manner, the day before he left for the InfoTrans Exhibition in Berlin. Duduzane Zuma and Rajesh ‘Tony’ Gupta arrived after 20 minutes and Mr Montana was introduced to them. They were interested in the tender to supply 600 commuter trains. However Mr Montana did not discuss the tender and told them that he was about to leave for Berlin and when he returned, he would hear what they had to offer. When Martins was asked about what had been discussed at the meeting, he stated that the Prasa Board had been discussed. Mr Montana was the CEO but the prerogative to appoint the Board was that of the Minister and therefore it made no sense that that conversation ‘supposedly’ took place. The reason given to Mr Montana at the meeting was that Duduzane Zuma and Rajesh Gupta wanted to meet because they were interested in the Prasa Rolling Stock Programme.
In Berlin, Mr Montana was shocked when rolling stock manufacturers there told him that Gupta family members had tried to extort money from them using the impression that the Guptas were working with the Government of South Africa’s legal consent and the Guptas could influence Montana, Martins and President Zuma.
On his return he asked Martins to convene a meeting with the two men at his Ministerial home at which Mr Montana made it clear that extorting money was putting government initiatives at risk and they had no right to collect money, especially as Metrorail was on the verge of collapse. Rajesh Gupta told him that he would not be Prasa CEO forever and that if Mr Montana cooperated with them, then the Gupta family would take care of him and arrange something for him in Dubai. Mr Montana made it very clear that he was not interested.
Mr Montana was questioned about nine properties in his name and his connection to Riaan van der Walt and Roy Moodley and about allegations that they had bought properties on behalf of Mr Montana. He was asked if any other Ministers had approached Mr Montana and tried to influence him. When asked if government was captured by the Gupta family, Mr Montana agreed that the statement had truth to it. He was asked if he was surprised when he heard that South China Rail had received the large locomotive contract from Transnet. Mr Montana replied that he knew about the Guptas and South China Rail and had no doubt that the deal was crooked. When asked if he would be willing to assist without any incentives to get Prasa and the railways back on track, Mr Montana replied that he would be willing to assist but would first have to consult his family, as they had been hurt but in principle he would be willing to assist and serve his country
The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee of Transport requested that the Portfolio Committee look at the recommendations of her committee’s report as in her opinion and evidence showed that putting a halt on the railway programme was a big mistake and South Africa would have progressed more economically if it had not been halted.
The Chairperson read the oath to Mr Lucky Montana and he affirmed that he would tell the truth.
Adv Nthuthuzelo Vanara led the evidence collection.
Witness: Mr Tshepo Lucky Montana
Adv Vanara: Mr Montana for the record can you state your full names?
Mr Montana: Tshepho Lucky Montana
Adv Vanara: As our initial discussion, can you confirm that you never worked at Eskom and the matters to which you are testifying will become clear in the inquiry, correct?
Mr Montana: Correct
Adv Vanara: We, the Committee will give you round about 20 minutes to take the Committee through the features of your submission and thereafter we will resume to the matter at hand. Before you proceed, you prepared a 65-page submission, with your permission may this submission be admitted to these proceedings as evidence?
Mr Montana: Yes
Adv Vanara: You may proceed, sir.
Mr Montana: Thank you Advocate for the opportunity, and to the Honourable Chair and Members to be allowed to present my testimony. Let me start off by saying Chair, that I am fully aware, in line with my statement and terms of reference of the Parliamentary Inquiry, I have been called in today for the inquiry following the media briefing that was convened by the Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises and of course the former Minister of Transport, Honourable Ben Martins, and I think he was responding to the testimony to this inquiry by Suzanne Daniels, former Legal Advisor at Eskom. And I think that I will not repeat her testimony, except that the reason that brings me here. Immediately after that testimony, the Honourable Ben Martins in his address to the media briefing and responding to the issue of his relationship with the Guptas, had tried to distance himself from Guptas. When he met with the Guptas on one occasion, he had met them with me. I got the distinct impression that Deputy Minister Martins wanted to create the impression that I brought members of the Gupta family to him. For the record I want to state that indeed in September 2012, he had invited me to his Ministerial house in Pretoria, at the time he was the Minister of Transport (I’ll be using those interchangeably - I’ll speak of the Deputy Minister and Minister Ben Martins of Transport).
Let me say firstly that I was extremely disappointed because I felt that the statement made by Deputy Minister Martins was not entirely truthful, was not fair and was not comradely. I felt strongly that he had a duty to call and inform me that he intended to mention my name during the media briefing; expect this from him as my leader, friend and a comrade. He knew that mentioning my name in the way he did in this political environment dominated by issues of state capture would raise the question as to whether I have a relationship with the Gupta family or not. I expected this from him, because DM Martins and I had a long relationship dating back to 1996 when I was first introduced to him in Parliament and we became close friends. He also introduced me to his family, I worked very closely with him as the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee of Public Enterprises, where together we championed some of the most important legislative changes during the period of 1999 to 2004 where we were busy with the restructuring of SOCs. We worked together as comrades in the South African Communist Party. This bond of friendship and comradeship was further strengthened when he was appointed Minister of Transport in 2012. DM Martins remains my leader and inspiration to me, he’s an intelligent and knowledgeable man, a freedom fighter, a communist and a great South African. I have no doubt that he’s committed to saving the people of South Africa. This is a man I have huge respect for. I could however not believe what he said at the media briefing, I felt strongly that DM Martins was trying to protect his own name at my expense. He knew that I had never met the Guptas until he had invited me to his Ministerial house in Pretoria and introduced me to Duduzane Zuma and Rajesh ‘Tony’ Gupta. This happened in September 2012.
What he said at the briefing was totally untrue and I felt it important to set the record straight and I issued a statement to that effect. Of course, my response to the Deputy Minister did attract the attention of the Evidence Leader, who wanted to know the context of the response and the letter referred to in my statement. When Minster Ben Martins was asked in the media briefing what was discussed in the meeting with the Guptas when he invited me to his house… Let me put a sequence in the actual occurrence. I was invited to the house, I was never told what was going to be discussed. I was the CEO of Prasa and I was invited by my boss. He said I need to see you. I went to the house and we sat there for about 20 minutes, tea was served and we had discussions about many things. Then two gentlemen arrived, Duduzane Zuma and Rajesh ‘Tony’ Gupta. I thought that perhaps it was very important for the Deputy Minister to clarify that I went there in that context but the impression was created that I came dragging them to his house and that is unfair and uncomradely. If I had met the Guptas I wouldn’t hide it because I have no reason to hide, but in this particular context that was not correct.
The second issue I want to address is that in the media briefing, Honourable Ben Martins was asked, “What was discussed?” He then said that we discussed the Board of Prasa, there was no reason for me to discuss the Prasa Board, I was the CEO of Prasa. The prerogative to appoint the Prasa Board was that of the Minister, so there was no reason to discuss the Prasa Board with people I had never met in the first place. The Minister introduced me to Tony Gupta and Duduzane Zuma and he then stated very explicitly that the reason these people want to meet with you is because they are interested in the Prasa Rolling Stock Programme and this was the eve of my departure for Berlin on 12 September 2012, because every two years in Berlin the Innotrans Exhibition was held which is the biggest railway exhibition where all railway manufacturers, operators, financiers of railway rolling stock and others would gather and it takes place over the entire week and in the middle of that is what you call a Rail-Leaders’ Summit. I used to be invited as one of the speakers every two years. So, I then indicated to Duduzane Zuma and Tony Gupta, thank you very much I’m off to Berlin, on my return I’ll hear what you guys are wanting to offer. I then proceeded to Berlin where I got the shock of my life!
Adv Vanara: Sorry, Mr Montana, what was discussed at the meeting of 12 September before your departure?
Mr Montana: Well there were two things. I was introduced firstly and I was told Rajesh Gupta and Duduzane Zuma are interested in the tender of the supply of 600 new commuter trains to replace the entire fleet of Metrorail that we had in the country. That was the context but we didn’t discuss in detail because when we were introduced they didn’t have details on them themselves. I told them: “Look I’m travelling for a week when I get back you guys can present to me and show me what you can offer” and then I proceeded to Berlin. In Berlin I got the shock of my life because mainly rolling stock manufacturers had wanted to meet with me and I was not keen to meet with them because we were preparing and were in the middle of a bidding process, as it were. But you know with the Innotrans Exhibition, information came to me from different manufacturers who wanted to confirm from me that they have been interacting with members of the Gupta family or on their behalf and these people had told them that, number 1, they were working for Lucky Montana, Ben Martins and President Zuma, but these were people I have not met and they were extorting money from rolling stock manufacturers and saying that they were working for us. I was so furious. At the end of the exhibition, when I was in Frankfurt on my way back to South Africa, I called the Honourable Minister and requested that the “chaps” that I met before I left, if I can see them as soon as possible when I land.
The Minister acceded to my request and we met, I went to the Minister’s house and they came to join us, this time he didn’t know why I was requesting to meet. I was angry, it was a long meeting but the first hour I spoke in the meeting and I made it very clear to Duduzane and Rajesh Gupta and a third gentleman from India was with him, I can’t recall his name exactly, but I then spoke to them and the first thing I mentioned was that they were not working for government and therefore they had no right to collect money in government's name. I then indicated to them that they were putting Government initiatives at risk cause if they collected money, losing bidders would challenge us and I was sensitive cause at that time Metrorail was on the verge of collapse and at that time if you buy rolling stock and someone takes you to court over a R50 billion transaction, you’re going to sit in court for 10 years and so we fought in that meeting. And of course Tony Gupta and Duduzane were very shameless because one of the things they said to me was that, and in particularly, Tony Gupta said to me, “You are not going to be at Prasa forever, we can arrange something for you in Dubai” – so the Dubai story started back then in 2012. I will finish my story by just reading an extract of my submission, that I wrote to my Chairman in 2012 for the Honourable Members to have a sense of what was my response to this whole situation. Effectively what they said was that if I worked with them they would take care of me. But I made it very clear I was not interested and I was not going to work with them [reads from submission].
Mr S Swart (ACDP) referred to the documents which Members received as there were a number of annexures which were referred to which Members did not have copies of. He wanted to know if Mr Montana could furnish the annexures that are listed besides the letters and statements.
Adv Vanara: I just have four questions. One relates to page four of your submission, the second paragraph, at the bottom of that paragraph where you had a long interview with SAFM to clarify your statement. You then say that the Minister and yourself had a telephonic conversation immediately after the interview and you had agreed to meet and not escalate the matter. What happened to that agreement? Did you meet, and if so what were the discussions, if any?
Mr Montana: That was the end of the matter. We never met, we promised to meet but it never happened
Adv Vanara: Then you indicated that the “Indian chap” brought you two CVs of those that were meant to be appointed to serve in the Evaluation Committee and you refused. You say they went to complain to the Minister of Transport which was then the current Deputy Minister. How do you know that they went to complain?
Mr Montana: In other meetings I had with the Minister, he did indicate that they have raised the issue but I did explain to him why the Bid Evaluation Committee should be structured in the manner that we did and I think the Minister consistently supported us. And I think at some stage he reached a level where he was actually irritated and he reached a point where he was tired of these guys who were abusing him to push their own interests.
Adv Vanara: By your own admission you credit the Minister for protecting you from the changing of the Board. You said you had prepared a letter, a letter that you wrote you read into your submission for the record. Was the Minister aware of the contents of that letter and if so, at what stage?
Mr Montana: The letter was written of course immediately after my meeting with the Director-General where I saw the Cabinet memoranda changing the Board. And I know the Chairman of the Board of Prasa did convey the message to the Minister about my letter, the fact that I wanted to step down and the Minister then convened a meeting where the three of us , him, the Chairman and myself met here in Cape Town and discussed the letter and the Minister gave us the assurance that it is not going to happen and he then came to support us on the matter. But prior to that, we were getting these conflicted responses from the Department and the Ministry itself. But after he saw the letter, he met with us and we had a very comradely discussion and he supported us.
Adv Vanara: There were attempts to change the Board which you want to relate to your refusal to allow the two gentlemen to serve in the Evaluation panel. And the way the tender went, the Minister who is now current Deputy Minister having supported you, there was a cabinet reshuffle and he was sacked and the new Minister comes on board. From your testimony it would appear that the agenda still persists: one, either you cancel or delay the tender and ultimately the Board gets to be changed. What must the Committee make of those developments?
Mr Montana: The agenda is not the same, I think as I explained on page 19 till 25 where I talked about Prasa and State Capture. What I’m trying to explain is that the Guptas wanted to change the Board IN 2012, they were defeated. The appointment contract was based on the evaluations that were done. But there was a major assumption that led to some of the strategic blunders that we see today, that I am working for the Guptas. So the assumption was that the contracts that we have at Prasa, should have been awarded to the Guptas. But now there is a different sheriff coming into town, he assumes that you are working with other people, then he takes measures to change all of that. It’s a completely different agenda, it’s not innocent but it’s a completely different agenda and link to the Guptas. I don’t think that Minister Dipuo Peters acted for the Guptas but acted with the Treasurer-General and other people.
Adv Vanara: The last issue is around three TNA Business Breakfasts, can you just shed light around that transaction?
Mr Montana: Page 64, we took a decision based on what we were doing as Prasa. We prepared a TV advert that we put together as Prasa, to try to convey to South Africans the many changes that were coming. We identified the Business Breakfast session of the TNA. We said here’s an opportunity we could use to place this particular advert. Every time we as Prasa, as sponsors of this thing, can then be able to run this particular advert. So, we said we’d pay for the sponsorship, which was for a year or 18 months, I can’t recall. I then met with Nazeem Howa, that time before he was at Oakbay he was at UH, we met, we then agreed on a contract and then we signed and I think it was R3 million at that time. So, then we ran and we found that there was a particular operation that these guys were doing, firstly you were a sponsor but when the Breakfast Session started on TV, as a sponsor you are not allowed to speak on air, so you speak before the actual event. Secondly, they put banners for you but there are many adverts that happen that generate a lot of revenue for that programme but you as a sponsor don’t get credit for that. I went to meet Nazeem and said: “Look we have got a problem, as Prasa we want to change because that is not the reason why we are a part of this thing”. I then gave them the terms of what we want, firstly, that when the Chairperson or the CEO or any Executive sponsors an event, the person must talk about Prasa live and not before you go on air because then we don’t get the benefit. Secondly that we must run on three occasions during the briefing sessions, we have created a train, with people getting in showing the new rolling stock trains. I then put together a team of people and put them to go and negotiate with Mr Nazeem Howa about these changes that we want. I said to him that if we are in agreement, I am prepared to run this thing until 2014, so that we can then mobilize people and they can understand the modernization that we are driving. Nazeem rejected this and again he went to Minister Ben Martins to complain. So, Minister Ben Martins convened a meeting between Nazeem and I and himself at his Ministerial house in Pretoria. And he gave Nazeem an opportunity to speak and Nazeem explained. I then patiently explained to the Minister that I’m reporting to the Board; how do they expect me to put money into a programme where I can’t show value for the company. I indicated that if they are not prepared to meet our terms then we’ll cancel the sponsorship. Nazeem was not prepared to accept that and kept on urging the Minister to prevail on us to reconsider. Ben Martins said look I think that you have got to respect the line which they are taking and Nazeem Howa persisted. For the first time I saw Minister Ben Martins angry because he reminded Nazeem Howa that he wasn’t appointed to Cabinet to serve his interests and the meeting ended with Nazeem Howa not getting what he wanted. After the meeting I then instructed my team to cancel the sponsorship with the TNA Breakfast Meeting and that we will no longer have The New Age at Prasa with immediate effect. We wanted to use the Breakfast Session to expose the work of Prasa but they were not keen to give us value for our money.
Adv Vanara: The last question is what do you say to people watching you testify who say “Lucky is a bitter man, he has scores to settle and that is why he has taken this opportunity to feed the Committee basically untrue statements”?
Mr Montana: Well, I think it is a fair comment and I think whoever will think that I'll fly from Pretoria and come to Cape Town...I prayed before I came to this meeting because clearly I have got an agenda about Prasa and I think people have destroyed an organisation. When I joined Prasa, Metrorail was on what you call a knife edge. I invested a lot of time and effort. I’ve collapsed coming from London and was rushed to hospital in order to rest. Prasa is an organisation that I have formed, I was personally part of the decision made in 2002 on the restructuring of Transnet and one of the decisions made was we needed to separate passenger from freight. It must be consolidated and put into one entity that reported to the Minister of Transport. In 2004 I moved from Public Enterprises, I was the DDG in Transport. I personally wrote the Cap Memo about how we bring these entities together, so I’m connected to all of these processes and I’m emotionally invested too. I’m the author of Prasa’s Modernization Programme. All the things that government had asked me to do such as the railways for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, we did it in a special way so the majority of 1.4 million spectators travelled on our trains, we even built new stations such as the Century City Station and people had access to it. So, for people who say Lucky would come to Cape Town and speak in the manner that he did, I had clear objectives for this – one, I assist the Committee to do its inquiry and I think some of my submission, if you look at pages 13 to 19, I share with the Committee, information about the structuring of the SOC. I’m not dealing with Prasa there, I’m saying the Committee is dealing with an important issue, it’s trying to do a clean-up and I’m saying as the Committee proceeds to do that work; it must also acknowledge that South Africans have major successes about its SOCs and not because I’m trying to settle any scores but rather I’m trying to assist the Committee and build on the successes while we clean up. When people mention incompetent leadership at SOCs, it’s bad because, as the Committee can see, I took up a few pages stating my qualifications and skills. But one thing also, that since I joined government, I have had opportunities to add onto those qualifications and skills. If I wanted to be incompetent or I was bitter then I would have stayed at home and refused to share it. For me, South Africa has given a lot, the Prasa years were only a part of my life and not the entire life, if we want to add on to it, we must look in the mirror and build to make it better. In government, I was given the Taxi Recap Programme and my home got attacked by taxi bosses who were not happy with the changes. Government offered me bodyguards, I refused. I said give me a firearm so I can defend myself and that is what I did. I am not angry with anyone. I’m just explaining the historic circumstances and I even mention witnesses by name because I’m not afraid, I have nothing to hide.
Adv Vanara: No further questions, thank you Chair.
Questions from Committee Members
The Chairperson explained that Members would have to abide by the 15-minute rule for questions.
Mr R Tseli (ANC): I want to start with the investigation conducted by Prasa to check your link with the President and the Guptas. You said it cost about R200 million, is there evidence in that regard?
Mr Montana: The evidence is available. In fact they are in Prasa’s briefing to the Portfolio Committee of Transport. They did actually mention the amount they have paid to Werkmans investigators, so it is on public record.
Mr Tseli: There is another letter that was distributed, “The Early Termination of Contracts”. You gave Prasa three months’ notice. Did you serve the three months’ notice as you had indicated?
Mr Montana: No, my contract provided for a three months’ notice period but in my letter of resignation on 15 March, I said in the light of what is happening at Prasa, particularly with the big contracts, I’ll even offer to serve six months to enable the Board to appoint a new CEO and I’d do a handover. I didn’t serve that period because on 15 July, I attended the Board meeting and I had to leave the meeting early – my uncle passed on. In the evening when I got home, I got a letter from the Board that they decided that it was not necessary for me to serve the notice period.
Mr Tseli: I’m worried about The New Age contract. You enter into a contract, you don’t agree with The New Age company on the terms and in the middle of the contract you have challenges or problems, then you want to negotiate some terms that you are not happy with. Can you talk to us about that particular situation?
Mr Montana: I agree with you, Honourable Tseli, the contract was going to come to end and we wanted to strategize on the forthcoming year ahead. Ultimately it was our right to say we were not getting our value for our money and we did not want to renew.
Mr Tseli: I agree but my worry is that these issues that arose – were they part of the contract or were they over and above the contract and the direction that you were moving towards?
Mr Montana: The sponsorship will actually tell how much coverage you get as a sponsor cause when you sponsor an event, you are buying air time and you are trying to make sure that you get the maximum exposure via the SABC’s statistics for example. We realized that before Generations a lot of people are watching TV so we then had a 40 second advert to tell each commuter about the Railways information but there was a premium you paid. But we felt that those benefits were not there and they were in the contract.
Mr Tseli: Part of what you give us is another statement seemingly where you were trying to clarify some allegations that were made against you. And let’s go to page 3 about the properties that you own, the nine properties. Property 1 you purchased in 1999 and the last one you purchased in 2015. Collectively how much are we talking about?
Mr Montana: If you check page 48, I provided that information. On page 48 in my submission, I have calculated only for five properties because I did not own all nine at the same time. I obtained a bond facility of R10.5 million from ABSA and my monthly payment was R97 000 per month. When the journalists met with me, I then shared my bond information with them and they did not even write about it. The smallest of them was in my township in Mamelodi which was with FNB for R116 000, so I didn’t own nine properties at the same time. I put on record all that I have ever purchased, yet it was said I used Prasa money to buy these properties.
Mr Tseli: The property that Riaan van der Walt bought for you, I want you to talk to that particularly.
Mr Montana: Riaan van der Walt never bought any property for me. It was an allegation that he bought a property for me. I know Riaan van der Walt. We have worked together and we tried to buy property together and there is nothing wrong with that. The reason behind that is because I want to invest and make money in property.
Mr Tseli: No, no, no Luck, just hold on there. This is what you are saying, that it is was public knowledge that Riaan van der Walt acquired property from you.
Mr Montana: Honourable Member, you were saying that Riaan van der Walt bought a property for me. He bought a property from me not for me. In fact, it was one of the accusations made that one of the rolling stock manufacturers bought a property for me in Parkwood. I bought the property in 2009, long before any rolling stock was issued.
Mr Tseli: There was a letter that you wrote to the Speaker of the National Assembly, when was it written?
Mr Montana: It was written in November 2016. I had left Prasa before then, in 2015. I left on 15 July 2015.
Ms N Mazzone (DA): One of the things that is going to happen tomorrow is that Deputy Minister Martins is going to come and deny everything you are saying. Do you have any proof of these meetings taking place because we got given a copy of the Deputy Minister’s diary that shows that he was not in certain places as a Suzanne Daniels had indicated?
Mr Montana: The letter that I wrote in 2012, it’s on record. I think that the first issue is that where there is no document of proof you need witnesses to collaborate.
Ms Mazzone: Are you willing to give that list of names to the Advocate because we are going to have to check that?
Mr Montana: I have given the name of the Deputy Minister of Finance who was part of those discussions and I think it would be odd of me to give Honourable Deputy-Ministers Ben Martins name as he would deny any of these meetings taking place. From my side though, I have put them on record.
Ms Mazzone: Deputy Minister Martins met with you, have you met with other ministers? You spoke about Minister Mahlobo, what did you discuss and why?
Mr Montana: I have never met Minister Mahlobo. I wrote a detailed letter stating how these companies were involved in the investigations at Prasa. They were not doing any investigations but they were breaking the law. I identified seven pieces of legislation that they were breaking. I wrote to him and his office did acknowledge.
Ms Mazzone: Did any other ministers ever approach you or try and influence you in any way?
Mr Montana: Not in respect of the Rolling Stock Programme but there were interactions with other members at Prasa. But no other Minister ever approached or tried to influence me.
Ms Mazzone: In terms of you revealing this information today, I applaud your frankness and honesty because when you leave here today, you will have made many enemies. Why did you take so long to come forward? Withholding information for so long as you know withholding information about corruption is a criminal offence. These matters happened in 2012 and now its 2018 so six years have passed. Who have you tried to contact about this to resolve it?
Mr Montana: I did as I indicated in the record. Firstly I brought it to the attention of the Board and secondly, the Chair of Prasa did escalate the matter to the Minister. In 2012 I never laid any case against the Guptas but I was very clear and stated that it would not happen here. They had an intention of committing a crime but we never allowed them to.
Ms Mazzone: Of any of these meetings that you had, where you ever in Dubai for these meetings and if you were, were any government officials with you?
Mr Montana: I don’t travel to Dubai. One of the reasons is because after this very matter I was accused that I had stashed money in Dubai. On one of my trips to London I realised I was being followed so this has been a big network. I don’t travel via Dubai precisely because people think I will cash in somewhere.
Ms Mazzone: There is obviously a massive dispute with who was right or wrong, there have been allegations levied against the Presidency, saying the President was the Number 1 State Captured Person. Was President Jacob Zuma involved in any of the discussions, or were you told the instructions came from the President himself?
Mr Montana: Well two things, the first was that, yes, the name of the President was used and what shocked me is that it was used even with international companies. And when I returned from Berlin, I had reminded people that this is our President. I think these companies are linked to their governments, so you think that you can do these kind of deals, surely their intelligence would pick up the irregularities? Secondly, so many people have come to lobby me and stated the President said this or that. I have told them that he is the President of the country and he would call me if he wanted me to do something. The one time we met with the President, we were briefing him about the Rolling Stock Programme and to be fair to the President, he was very clear and said that the process must be run fairly. And when we went to Cabinet, where Minister Martins took it to Cabinet, we say the Number 1 State Captured Person is there but here’s a meeting with the President saying that it must be fair.
Ms Mazzone: From what you have told me it is very clear that Duduzane Zuma was using the name of the President in vain. Do you not think that the son of the President involved in some of the biggest deals in the world, not just the country, was a severe conflict of interest?
Mr Montana: Well, I think, yes, it is but you remember conflict of interest you must manage. Some say conflict of interest, you mustn’t get involved, others say conflict of interest can be managed with structures and mechanisms of management. So, yes, I think there are different ways but overall, yes, I think it was a severe conflict of interest.
Ms Mazzone: Was or is our Government captured by the Gupta family, yes or no?
Mr Montana: The Cabinet Memorandum gets drafted by Cabinet. If an AGM or Ministers’ meetings get cancelled and the Guptas told me two weeks earlier then surely it tells us that something is not right. I agree that there is an element of truth in that statement.
Mr M Dlamini (EFF): Thank you for being courageous. Tell me, you are saying that the Minister coming tomorrow was your comrade and friend. After the meetings you had with Duduzane Zuma and Rajesh Gupta, did you not ask him as your friend why he involved you in the meeting, knowing your position in the company?
Mr Montana: The meeting was arranged very informally, I was not even given time to prepare. We were both in Pretoria and we do not stay far from each other. He just called and said that he needed to see me and if I could pop in quickly. Those guys arrived a bit later and I had to leave, as I was meant to leave for Berlin. I was not suspicious of anything and ministers get lobbied all the time but they always rub it off. But what I found in Berlin opened my eyes and made me aware that what I was dealing with was troubling. My relationship with Ben Martins is good and I respect him.
Mr Dlamini: Even after Berlin, did you not ask Minister Ben Martins how he had gotten to know the Guptas and Duduzane Zuma?
Mr Montana: Actually in my submission, in my last section, I deal with that. After all these fights he then convened a meeting and invited us and said Lucky must not resign, can you come to Cape Town and see me. I flew to Cape Town and I saw him but we then arranged it as a briefing at Cape Town Station, thinking that people may be listening in on us. We left our phones in the office and it was through that discussion that Honourable Ben Martins indicated that when those guys came he didn’t realise their agenda and they called and stated that they just wanted to meet and discuss something and he stated that he is with me in this whole thing.
Mr Dlamini: He is coming tomorrow, we will test that stance. The Deputy Minister of Finance was offered R600 million, now the ANC is an unforgiving party, did they offer...
The Chairperson intervened and stated that it was not a relevant point of order.
Mr Dlamini: When the Guptas said they would arrange for you in Dubai, did they mention the amount of money that they would arrange?
Mr Montana: No, I didn’t even entertain it. I was angry.
Mr Dlamini: To the issue of Zweli Mkhize, the Advocate asked you if you are coming here because you are bitter. Zweli Mkhize came here and confirmed that the ANC took money from the Guptas, so that there is no confusion with what you will tell us. Also, he came back and asked for 10%, do you know whether he got that 10% or not?
Mr Montana: There was no 10% paid, I refused and made it clear that it was unlawful and we cannot do it!
Mr Dlamini: I don’t have many questions. They are all corrupt! You say that you were given a firearm by Prasa. Is there not certifications that you must get and how did you get it?
Mr Montana: Back then there was a completely different procedure but I had to go for training. However at that time I had already received a certificate when I still in the Department of Transport, when I was fighting with the taxi bosses. I got all my certificates and training. I returned the firearm one month before the expiry of my contract with Prasa
Mr Dlamini: Finally, can you place it on record that you have been accused falsely that you got the trains with the wrong specifications. If the specs are correct and are parked in Braamfontein as you have said, why have they not been used?
Mr Montana: That is a very important question. If you look at pages 38 to 44, I deal with these trains. And I will tell you that for me I am actually shocked that we can have a country of 55 million people who can be misled in this way. That someone writes a story in a newspaper and all of us accepts it. The locomotives were delivered here in Cape Town. We travelled on that locomotive to Stellenbosch and back to Cape Town, and from Johannesburg back to Cape Town and when people were here for the Jazz Festival they travelled on these locomotives and said that they were perfect. I even took a bunch of journalists, even the guy who wrote the story, and told him to sit in front. The story comes from a document called the Transnet Track Maintenance Manual and it stated that these were the standards in the country. In reality, the specifications far exceeded that of the Manual and it was not the standard for South Africa. The standards were captured in the SANS Document in what you call the Electrical Safety Instructions.
Dr Z Luyenge (ANC): Unfortunately, we are so traumatised and we need counselling as a Committee, this is really heart-breaking and I want to commend Mr Montana, for your bravery and attitude for the survival of the country. These cupboards are full of skeletons but it is good that we are doing this process. Rather die for the truth than live with the lies! Can you please state when the Guptas were introduced to you in 2012? Did they indicate the amount of wealth they had at the time? Secondly, when Mr Ben Martins, the Deputy Minister, mentioned your name, after and during your interactions and in his tenure, did he ever show any negative attitude to you or disbelief in you doing wrong things? When this rolling stock was introduced, were the origins of that concept declared to you, if so were they innocent? Can you tell this Committee, if the majority of the politicians and unfortunately our leaders are a part of this, were they coming to you to request helping ordinary people or to help themselves? I want you also to elaborate on your rejection of what the then Minister of Public Enterprises, Mr Malusi Gigaba, put forward to say he had enough capacity?
Mr Montana: I think firstly the Deputy Minister Ben Martins, I can’t complain, he has supported me and I think that what I wrote in the statement, I believe in it. The only issue I took with him was that “I had brought the Guptas to him” and I was surprised that he responded to Ms Suzanne Daniels in the way he did, but other than that I can’t complain. On all matters involving the Guptas, he did support us and at the end we walked at Cape Town Station and took us into his confidence and supported us and protected us and he can take credit for that. The origin of the rolling stock, you won’t believe it, and I’ll explain why a former Mayor of Ekurhuleni is smiling at this time. Parliament has played an important role in the Rolling Stock Programme, a lot of interventions come from Parliament. In this very room in 2011, I was making a presentation to the Portfolio Committee of Transport, after my presentation I raised the presentation and I said I’m raising the red flag. If we don’t intervene with our railways it is going to collapse. That was about eight years ago and the Committee said in unanimity that we must do something and it led to a trip to China with both the Portfolio Committees of Transport and Public Enterprises. They came back with a report and gave it to me to be implemented and the result of that is what we have today. The origin of the Rolling Stock, Parliament played that role and I had to find what is it that I must do to make sure that we give effect to this project. The long and short of it, we wanted to buy different numbers, over 8000 trains over a 12-year period, we were told it was not affordable. A feasibility study was done and it came back approved by Cabinet, so what is being implemented today come from that. Most of the trains were built by Union Carriage. Transnet is effectively doing the maintenance side of that aspect. So, these were two sides that were complementing each other but because there was no investment we lost the complementary partnership. In the contract signed by Prasa we made provision that the facility that builds trains in Niger be owned by Transnet and not by Prasa, because Transnet is not an operator like Prasa in respect of commuter trains.
Mr S Swart (ACDP): I want to thank you for your lengthy document and also for your courage. You will be protected and I fully agree with that and its interesting how many MPs have been threatened for what we are doing but I just want to endorse the fact that you prayed before you came in here and I know that the truth will set you free and we also know that on National TV when people were threatening us and witnesses, we referted to our belief. So thank you for taking the chance to expose what the Guptas have done and what certain members of the ANC have been involved in and how many of them also let you down. I agree that this should form the basis of a separate enquiry by the Transport Portfolio Committee because what you have said today was highly explosive and I believe that we should investigate fully and you be given the opportunity to clear your name. I want to start with the Guptas when they first approached you. I am sure you have been following the Transnet locomotive debate that we will be inquiring also and you mention the name of Salim Essa and South China Rail and the attempts of those people being asked to pay bribes. Is that correct?
Mr Montana: That is correct, yes.
Mr Swart: And, the reason for disqualifying South China Rail, was it specifications and that they didn’t comply with your tender, is that correct?
Mr Montana: That is correct
Mr Swart: Were you surprised when you heard that South China Rail had received such a large locomotive contract from Transnet.
Mr Montana: Well, firstly, I thought it was not in line with our strategy for industrialization. Secondly, I already at that time knew what was happening with the Guptas and South China Rail and I had no doubt that the books would be crooked.
Mr Swart: I am sure that you are also aware of the leaked emails and the good work that has been done by investigative journalists relating to the Transnet contract with South China Rail and to Tequesta. It is alleged there are massive kickbacks amounting to R5.3 billion, R10 million per R50 million locomotive that Transnet is buying via South China Rail, are you aware of that?
Mr Montana: I am confirming that, yes.
Mr Swart: The CEO of Tequesta was Salim Essa who features prominently with the Guptas, Transnet and Eskom. Their contract conditions are straightforward bribery in my view of R10 million per R50 million locomotive and I think it collaborates your version of the story. I just want to commend you on the stance that you and others took at Prasa to defend integrity and honesty. The fact that you had to have firearm to protect yourself is staggering to me!
Mr Montana: That is why I am actually committed to it more than ever before, after I have left Prasa. I love this country more because in South Africa we experience different things and I love it here and I am not going anywhere.
Mr Swart: I agree with your sentiments Mr Montana and we are in this together, that is why it is so important for us to shed light on corruption and that is something we are doing at this stage to expose it. I just wanted to ask you a bit about Mr Martins. He is your friend and all but you did hold him accountable to the truth that he did not state about the meeting. But there were two meetings set out, would you just explain a little about that please?
Mr Montana: We never discussed the Board of Governance, when I first met them there was no issue about Governance. Honourable Martins may have confused the dates. When we met in the beginning there was no other issue besides these guys wanting the Rolling Stock tender for themselves.
Mr Swart: I am sorry I have got limited time but it seems that your version is very clear, and the difference between the first and second meeting. Is there any reason why Martins would not mention that there were two meetings?
Mr Montana: I think it could be because the second meeting was at my request and I had a big fight there but I think he knew beyond the second meeting that the issue of the Board arose only latter and that is something that should be corrected.
Mr Swart: I hold a similar view to you and I have known Mr Martins for years but it is strange that he had forgotten the first meeting. His version seems to tie in with the second meeting and he did not mention the first meeting. There is a confusion about that but then his version is directly contradicted by Suzanne Daniels and it is unlike Ben Martins to use the language he used against Ms Suzanne Daniels and that is not the Ben Martins I know as he was very agitated and angry. The funny thing is that Mr Pravin Gordhan who is a Member of this Committee warned Ms Daniels that people are going to say that she has lied and they have detracted from her but she come forward and clarified things.
The Chairperson stated that there was a Member present who wanted to ask one question. He is from another Committee but has an interest in the proceedings of the Inquiry which the Chairperson welcomed. The Member’s presence was highly appreciated and it showed the Committee that we are not alone in this. The Chairperson welcomed Mr de Freitas of the Portfolio Committee of Transport.
Mr M Freitas (DA): I just want to confirm that Mr Montana knows Mr Roy Moodley and has dealings with him. What do you say to allegations that through Roy Moodley, properties were bought and given to you?
Mr Montana: I put out a statement on 8 February and earlier an Honourable Member raised that issue and I have explained it in detail. I own properties that I bought via ABSA. I had a R10.5 million bond facility from ABSA and I was paying R97 000 a month and I had never met Roy Moodley when I purchased most of these houses. Roy Moodley, I never appointed him at Prasa. He was there long before I joined Prasa and he never bought a house for me. I worked with this lawyer and I think it’s lawful if I take my property and I trade my properties or sell them. I cannot stay in all nine house and I have two houses in Main Street in Waterkloof in Pretoria. I own these two houses in the same street because my house was attacked already and I was a government official, the State felt to protect, when Crime Intelligence came and told me that I can’t stay in this house because it is next to a shopping area, these guys are going to kill you. I then bought a house in the same street but much further away. ABSA gave me a bond of R2.4 million. I couldn’t move my family due to school and other obligations. The other thing that the State paid for me, what you call a relocation cost including transfer fees for me to relocate and be protected. People investigated me and I know because I have seen those reports. Prasa spent R2 million investigating me, it started small and then they couldn’t find anything and they went deeper and deeper and they got needier for information or dirty information. The guy from Pam Golding told me that he was manipulated into signing the affidavit. They told him that Lucky Montana is involved in this mess and if he did not cooperate then he would be in the same mess. They told him that they would prepare the affidavit and he just had to sign. Yes, I am sensitive to criticism, we are public officials and I think if I had the opportunity to work for government there are a lot of things that I would not do again. I got the latest report done by National Treasury and I laughed because it does not say money was stolen and it was leaked to the newspapers.
Ms L Mnganga-Gcabashe (ANC): Chairperson, I am on page 32, on the story of Tall Trains, you refer to it as the modernized trains and indeed they are modernized. However, today you have given us information that a lot of us were not aware of. Given that you carry institutional memory of having served in different governmental departments and SOCs, besides the court cases, what happened to you when you left? What would be your advice now if the investigations reveal that those trains are suitable to run? Just put yourself back in the position of CEO of a government entity. What would be your advice and plan of action to rectify this? What you said is that government invested a R100 billion into this project and that’s a lot of money for those trains lying these for so many years. What would be the plan of action to move ahead?
Mr Montana: I am already talking to particularly Prasa colleagues. They do speak to me but very informally of course about what needs to be done. The first thing is that you need to tighten as government and the appointment of a board. There is no doubt in my mind that, that process can be one that either enhances or destroys a company and we have seen it in many entities. The agreement must be made by the board with not only the shareholder but also management. Secondly, I think that we are not protecting our people, particularly the loss of skills that we have suffered, South Africa lost a lot of railway skills and we need to find a way to get it back. The matter of the railway system will not last for long and you have got to find a way to accelerate it. Prasa in the last three years chased me and in doing so they neglected the company, the depot for the trains is not even ready and that is a major problem. There are cost implications to everything and slacking or delaying contracts can lead to major financial implications. I will help Prasa in moving forward, I am not angry despite many colleagues stabbing me in the back. They were singing as much as they wanted but at the end of the day they could not deliver. At the end of the day it is about the citizens and the people of the country and their convenience.
Ms Mnganga-Gcabashe: Having said that would you be willing to assist and you have been assisting, would you be willing to assist without any incentives, because people rush to become consultants for the department or company they worked for. Would you be willing to further assist?
Mr Montana: I am willing to assist but first I would have to sit with my family, because you remember, they were hurt. I’m a father, an uncle and a brother and a son and they were hurt. My own mom was even in tears at times and whatever decision I make I must respect them in doing so. In principle though, yes, I would be willing to assist and use what this country has given to me and serve the country. If our railways are in trouble and tomorrow the Minister approaches me that the Department needs help then, yes, I will go and help out.
Ms Mnganga-Gcabashe: My next question is on page 40 until page 45, it relates to overstating irregular expenditure to suit an agenda. I won’t go through the whole statement as we all have your submission. My concern is that you are making certain allegations against the Office of the Auditor General and against the Prasa Board as well as the top management of Prasa. I am worried as the Office of the Auditor General is a well-respected office in the land in the work that they are doing and if certain allegations are put in the public domain it warrants some kind of clarification. The Auditor General would not be able to come here and clarify but at some stage we would be able to seek some clarification from entities that form part of this Portfolio Committee and I hope that Members of other Portfolio Committees that are relevant to this submission are also listening and watching that they are able to pick up this matter. I think at some time the Office of the Auditor General would have to clarify the matter as it is in the public domain. I still have trust and confidence in that office but certain things need to be clarified.
Ms N Bhengu (ANC): I just want to make one point, that the study tour to China had to do more with integration of transport in South Africa, the four modes of transport – rail, aviation, road and maritime. South Africa doesn’t have the necessary integrated transport system it needs. It had to do with choosing a back bone of transport in a country and rail transportation was chosen as a backbone because of it being a fast mover, also low in cost and also taking more people. The problem that we have in South Africa is that 80% of goods are transported by road, whereas the ideal situation would be that 80% of goods are transported by train and also 80% of commuters are transported by train. I would appreciate it, that we go back to the report of the Portfolio Committee of Transport that I chaired and look at the recommendations that were made because putting a halt on the Railway Programme was a big mistake. This country would have been further if it had continued it and it had not been halted.
The Chairperson stated that the Portfolio Committee of Public Enterprises would take a look at the recommendations made by the Portfolio Committee of Transport. Ms Bhengu’s suggestion was welcomed and it would be pursued.
The Chairperson thanked all the Members present, Mr Montana and Adv Vanara
The Chairperson stated that the Committee would reconvene the next day at 9:30am and would be leaving after the meeting to Johannesburg to go on an oversight visit of Eskom on 1 February.
The meeting was adjourned.