A new investigation into the looting of Transnet’s pension funds reveals the methods of Zuma-era theft.
There is certainly debate about how quickly South African president Cyril Ramaphosa is acting against those accused of corruption during the Jacob Zuma years.
But a slew of inquiries is throwing up rich detail on the myriad plundering operations operated by those close to the former president, including the now infamous Gupta family.
One such operation is outlined by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) in its 8 May report on how Regiments Capital, a South African investment firm, looted a state pension fund using insider information.
The information in question concerned the firing of South Africa’s finance minister Nhlanhla Nene in December 2015 – for many the nadir of the Zuma presidency:
“The firing appeared abrupt to the rest of the world, but not to Eric Wood, then one of Regiments’ three directors. Weeks beforehand, Wood called a meeting with a senior manager at Regiments,” write Khadija Sharife and Mark Anderson.
Wood used that information to make a bet on South Africa’s bond price, making the pension fund he controlled the losing counter-party to the bet, and earning over R130m ($9m) on the trade.
A senior staff member of Regiments, Mohamed Bobat, was then made a special adviser to Des van Rooyen, whom many believe was hand-picked by the Gupta family to be South Africa’s finance minister.
Meanwhile, ordinary South Africans are still trying to pick up the pieces.
“Benita Swart, a 61-year-old Transnet pensioner, said the retirees ‘have no idea what was done with our money, how they invested it, how much was looted. […] We will work for scraps until we die,’” she told the OCCRP reporters.