Transnet appoints Lekau “Solly” Letsoalo as new COO

Transnet has appointed experienced and respected logistics manager, Lekau “Solly” Letsoalo as Group Chief Operating Officer – effective from next month.

Letsoalo is a former Chief Operating Officer of Transnet Port Terminals. He has spent at least 14 years in the private sector. This as managing director at Aveng Manufacturing. More recently, as Chief Executive Officer of Cargo Carriers.

Transnet Group Chief Executive Michelle Phillips said: “It is great to welcome Letsoalo back to Transnet. [It’s also great] and to be able to draw on his global knowledge of the logistics industry. This at such an… important time in our organisation’s history.”

Rich global experience

The state utility added that Letsoalo’s global experience also stands him in good stead.

“Mr Letsoalo has extensive knowledge of Transnet’s business operations. While at TPT, he achieved significant milestones. [These include] expanding the Pier 2 Container Terminal and constructing the Pier 1 terminal. Also building the Ngqura Container Terminal, and modernising the Cape Town Container Terminal.

“His global exposure have further enriched his leadership capabilities. They include learning experiences in the US, UK, Belgium, Germany, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Japan.” 

High Court judgment

Meanwhile, Transnet has expressed its disappointment at the High Court judgment handed down on 18 June 2024. The matter stems from the action instituted by Total and Sasol for the recovery of amounts paid to Transnet for the conveyance of crude oil in Transnet’s crude oil pipeline from Durban to the Natref refinery in Sasolburg, which is jointly owned by Total and Sasol. The rail company said it intends to appeal the judgment, which says it should pay over R6-billion in damages to Sasol.

The case concerned the application of an agreement (which took the form of an exchange of letters between the parties). It was concluded in 1967 between Total, Sasol and the South African government at the time. This was varied by the parties (also by way of an exchange of letters) in 1991.

The agreement has since been cancelled. It had as its central feature
that the so-called “neutrality principle” would apply. This referred to calculating the tariff from Durban to the Natref refinery. In terms of which Natref would neither be advantaged nor disadvantaged by its inland location.

The judgment handed down by the High Court concerns the application of the neutrality
principle. This in the face of uncontested evidence that Total and Sasol made vast transport profits during the claim period.

The judgment thus has enormous implications for the public purse and for Transnet. This in its ability to discharge its obligations under the applicable legislation and its licence conditions.

Transnet intends to appeal the judgment and is in the process of instructing its legal team accordingly.


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