Former Transnet legal boss in court over alleged cash and Persian carpet bribes

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Kenneth Diedricks, left, and his co-defendant.

  • The state has charged a former senior Transnet Freight Rail official with corruption for allegedly accepting a R300,000 bribe 11 years ago.
  • Kenneth Diedricks is accused of accepting payment for authorizing an illegal payment of R25 million to a railway group.
  • Diedricks and his co-defendants were released on bail of R10,000.
  • For more financial news, visit The front page of News24 Business.

Former Transnet Freight Rail legal officer Kenneth Diedricks appeared in court after being accused of accepting bribes of R300,000 in cash and a Persian rug from two companies with which the entity public was in business.

With him in the dock at Palm Ridge Magistrates Court in Gauteng on Wednesday were Charles Pretorius and Refiloe Martins of Polyzomba Rail Contractors, the company accused of paying him the cash bribe.

The three defendants were each granted bail of R10,000.

According to the state indictment, Diedricks in 2011 “unlawfully co-approved” a payment of 25 million rand to Polyzomba, a company that carries out construction and maintenance work on railway tracks.

The payment was made for “ancillary” services, after Polyzomba had already won R64 million for a contract to replace rail panels on a railway line in KwaZulu-Natal.

In 2013, about two years after approving the payment, Pretorius and Refiloe allegedly paid R300,000 into Diedricks’ lawyers’ account as a down payment for a R3.7 million house in Bassonia, Gauteng.

According to the state, the cash payment was a “bonus” for the earlier payment of R25 million.

Later in 2013, Diedricks reportedly received a Persian rug worth R20,000 from Umthombo Resources, a company that did business with Transnet.

slow train coming

It’s unclear why authorities took so long to bring the case to court, as corruption allegations against Diedricks had already surfaced in July 2015.

City Press reported at the time that a year-long audit by PwC found evidence that Diedricks had received kickbacks from Polyzomba.

PwC’s investigation also found that Diedricks passed on confidential company documents to groups competing for rail tenders. These allegations, however, are not included in the State’s record.

Diedricks declined to comment at the time and threatened to sue if the article was published.

Three years later, more evidence against him was covered by the media.

City Press reported that Diedricks’ ‘discarded’ ex-wife Yvette Diedricks submitted an affidavit to the Hawks stating that Diedricks used cash bribes to pay for a luxury vacation in New York, Dubai , France and the Bahamas.

“Kenneth made sure we took our international vacation trips while TFR staff were getting their annual performance bonuses so it wouldn’t raise eyebrows with their co-workers,” she said at the time.

The case against Diedricks, Pretorius and Martins has been adjourned to March 7, 2023.

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