Transnet to Face $9.4 Billion Lawsuit From Pensioners

Transnet SOC Ltd., South Africa’s state-owned port and rail operator, is facing an 85.5 billion rand ($9.4 billion) class action lawsuit from members of its pension and benefit funds.

The “legacy debt” owed to Transnet Pension Fund and Transnet Second Defined Benefit Fund by the company was a combined 80 billion rand as of the end of March, Wynanda Coetzee, a lawyer at Pretoria, South Africa-based Geyser & Coetzee Attorneys, which is representing the pensioners, said in a statement on the company’s website.

A further 5.5 billion rand shortfall was caused by canceled bonds that deprived the funds of cashflow and assets, according to the statement. Mboniso Sigonyela, a spokesman for Transnet, declined to comment.

“To date Transnet refuses to pay the outstanding legacy debt,” Coetzee said. “The state and Transnet would have gained substantial financial benefit from the refusal to defray the debt owed.”

Two members of the funds have lodged an application to the North Gauteng High Court requesting the institution of a class action against Transnet, Coetzee said. Rapport, an Afrikaans-language newspaper based in Cape Town, reported the case earlier.

Wynanda Coetzee couldn’t be reached for further comment.

(Corrects April 29 story to show lawsuit is from pensioners.)