Minister Brown says SOEs must be investigated


In what is arguably her first public statement on corruption since the sudden dismissal of the former Denel chief executive and two other top officials in the state-owned defence and security conglomerate more than two years ago, Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown said “investigators must do their work. There are no holy grails”.

Her comment comes in the wake of an apparent visit to Dubai by the Minister’s personal assistant reported to have cost more than R30 000 including a chauffeured drive to the Gupta family’s luxury home in the United Arab Emirates. Times Live reports details of the trip undertaken by Kim Brown were found in the leaked Gupta emails.

Riaz Saloojee was initially suspended as Denel chief executive, along with chief financial officer Fikile Mhlontlo and group company secretary Elizabeth Africa late in 2015, the same year Minister Brown appointed a new board of directors for Denel. This, she said at the time, was in accordance with a rotation policy.

Some months later Denel said it was entering into a joint venture with VR Laser Asia to be known as Denel Asia to explore sales opportunities in the Asian market for, among others, its artillery, missile and protected vehicle products. The tie between VR Laser Asia and South African Gupta-linked company VR Laser was speedily unearthed by investigative journalists and saw Denel go to the North Gauteng High Court to oppose a National Treasury instruction not to go ahead with the joint venture. At the time of publication no decision had yet been handed down by the Pretoria court.

On allegations against officials in her department Brown this week said the Public Enterprises department had been “instructed” to assist the probe by making documents and officials available to the investigation.
“Proper investigative processes are the only mechanisms that can lift the clouds hanging over State-owned Companies (SOEs),” she said in a statement.

Power utility Eskom is one of the SOEs currently in the spotlight with parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises currently hearing presentations and submissions on state capture. A committee statement has it the submissions will help “to ask the right questions” when the Eskom inquiry officially starts in mid-August.