Home South African Telkom asks court to block SIU probe into shady deals claims

Telkom asks court to block SIU probe into shady deals claims

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In January, Ramaphosa ordered the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to probe allegations of malfeasance dating back as far as 2006.

File picture: Thobile Mathonsi

TELKOM has filed an interdict at the North Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, to have President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to order an investigation into alleged malfeasance at the telecommunications operator declared unconstitutional and invalid.

In January, Ramaphosa ordered the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to probe allegations of malfeasance dating back as far as 2006.

Ramaphosa also instructed the SIU to investigate Telkom’s procurement of telegraph services, advisory services in terms of company’s broadband and mobile strategy and payments that were not fair, equitable, transparent or cost-effective, or contrary to applicable legislation or National Treasury or Telkom rules.

To get a stake in the lucrative West African market, Telkom ventured into a botched operation in Nigeria which proved to be disastrous for the company and resulted in a R10 billion loss.

The probe also involves the sale of iWayAfrica, Africa Online Mauritius, and Multi-links Telecommunications Limited.

In its founding affidavit, the company said it would suffer irreparable harm should the SIU commence with its investigation pending its review.

It also indicated that it was not a state institution and did not use public money or control state assets, as set out in the SIU Act.

However, the government owns 40% of Telkom and the Public Investment Corporation, which manages the Government Employees Pension Fund, owns 14%.

The telecommunications giant said Ramaphosa had acted “without grounds, irrationally, arbitrarily … by authorising an investigation into vague allegations, formulated and cast in the widest possible terms, covering a period of some 15 years”.

The company argued that Ramaphosa had failed to take into consideration that some of the allegations had already been investigated and there was no need for new investigations.

In March, Telkom dragged South Africa’s telecommunications regulator Icasa to court to block efforts to auction new spectrum, calling the process unfair and unlawful.

In April, the companies reached an out-of-court settlement. The parties had agreed that Telkom would withdraw the court application and that each party would pay its own legal costs. In return, Icasa had undertaken to commence with the licensing of the spectrum that remained unassigned in the auction by June 30 and that this licensing process would be concluded within the current financial year.

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