The companies included Aloe Investments, Gear Namibia, Thelo Rolling Stock Leasing and Transnet Engineering
“The board accordingly sanctioned this engagement and mandated management to engage the suppliers in question and negotiate terms of lease.
However management proceeded to send out letters marked extremely urgent to Aloe Investments, Gear Namibia, Thelo Rolling Stock Leasing and Transnet Engineering on 18 March 2015, to grant approval for the leasing of ten locomotives from each of these companies without authority from the board.
In a letter to the board dated 13 April 2015, management admitted overlooking the requirements of the purchasing policy, and called it an oversight that they only realised during a briefing by the project negotiation team
“Management proceeded to engage the suppliers and identified Aloe Investment 91 (Pty) Limited as the most recommendable supplier,” a letter seeking indulgence and condonation from the board for non-compliance with the company’s purchasing policy on the envisaged lease of locomotives from Aloe Investment 91 reads.
The condonation letter was only sent after TransNamib legal advisor Eveline Tomas had warned management for going ahead with plans to lease locomotives without the final approval of the board in violation of the company’s procurement policy.
Tomas noted that obtaining an exemption from the board to be given the go ahead to lease locomotives when lease agreements were already signed with lessors was tantamount to forgery.
The Windhoek Observer has in its possession correspondence between Tomas and management where she warned management and the board about non-compliance with the purchasing policy.
“Whilst acknowledging the urgency of this matter I am inclined to note that it appears exemption of this engagement from the Purchasing Policy was not procured,” Thomas wrote.
“Same should have been obtained prior to board submission, alternatively, the board should have been asked to condone non-compliance therewith.
“Obtaining such exemption after the engagement has already been approved by board, will amount to a forgery of the process.
“I am thus taking the liberty to advise that going forward we must please ensure that internal policies are complied with or exemptions thereto are sanctioned.”
She also advised management against conducting business with Aloe Investments and Solethu without undertaking proper due diligence.
“Given the magnitude of the transaction and taking cognisance of the fact that, we seem to be getting raw deals on some of our engagement, has a proper due diligence been undertaken to really understand the proposed business association and perhaps the entities behind [them].
“...having worked for Lorentz &Bones Commercial as part of Lorentz Angula Inc., I know that Aloe Investment Companies are shelf companies sold by L&B Commercials,” Tomas said.
The company’s legal advisor alerted management to an article that had appeared in South African media in March this year.
According to the article authorities in that country had launched a probe into a Transnet Engineering official for taking kickbacks to the value of R2 million.
The official resigned from his post when investigations into his alleged corrupt activity began.
Bizarrely, Acting Chief Executive Officer Hippy Tjivikua lashed out at Tomas for her legal advice in a lengthy e-mail.
Tjivikua defended the actions of management as well as their decision to source business from Aloe Investments and Solethu.
“I would like to give you an indication that I have raised your concerns about the perceived flawed/forged process in the leasing of locomotives.
“I would like to categorically state that the way and format how you may have raised the issues would want to portray that we don’t know what we are doing or it is a corrupt or illegal activity.
“There is a notion that when black people converge to put fruitful ideas together, then they should be suspected of criminal activities.
“Such comments end up being leaked to the media houses where issues are distorted with malicious intent.
“As indicated to you, this activity to lease locos was sanctioned by the board and they can also take out of policy decisions arising from the urgency of the matter. I informed the board last night that you have raised concerns about the procurement process.
“The board collectively last night indicated that they would not tolerate any form of activity to undermine their decision to lease the locos.
“...moreover after we received the proposals we went to due diligence to establish whether we are dealing with bogus institutions and whether they indeed have locos available for lease,” Tjivikua wrote.
The Acting CEO further told Tomas not to entertain hearsay about the Transnet official accused of kickbacks.
Tjivikua stated that no court had convicted the lawyer of any of the offenses he was accused of.
“So many negative things are being said about all of us. Imagine, there were articles about the qualifications of our Chairman, imagine the public image that was painted, we all know the outcome by now.
“Do you want us to tell the lessor we do not accept their lawyer because of the media article?”
Furthermore, Tjivikua said the issue of Aloe Investments being a shelve company was a non-issue as the lessor (Solethu Investments) had indicated that it was using a shelf company as their partner in Namibia.
Tjivikua seemed to demean Tomas’ concerns about doing business with a company that had lied about its “partner”.
“Is it a criminal offence to start doing business with a company that has been lying on a shelve?” Tjivikua said.
He added that the parties (Aloe and Solethu) had assured them during a meeting that they were forming a partnership, and TransNamib could not determine with whom or how they should enter into partnership.
“We are too critical of one another that we do not want to acknowledge good things that others are able to achieve,” Tjivikua said.