Official tells Zondo inquiry SAAT chairwoman wanted a kickback from her

Official tells Zondo inquiry SAAT chairwoman wanted a kickback from her

Cape Town - Taking the stand at the Zondo commission of inquiry on Friday, the former head of procurement at South African Airways Technical (SAAT), Nontsasa Memela, argued that her transformation agenda may have led to accusations of graft.

She was disputing testimony made earlier this week by a director of SRS Aviation, Sibongile Rejoice Sambo, that she had helped a competing bidder, JM Aviation, for a R1.2 billion contract that it was awarded in 2016, along with US-based company AAR Corporation.

In her testimony, Memela said she believed there was an immediate suspicion that when a black executive and a black bidder were involved, there was also corruption involved. She added that she believed she may have "ruffled a lot of feathers" because she was trying to transform the entity.

Memela was discussing how she first met the founding director of JM Aviation, Vuyo Ndzeku.

Sambo told the commission that Memela had told her SAAT chairwoman Yakhe Kwinane instructed her to help Ndzeku prepare JM Aviation's bid.

She also told the commission that Kwinane had tried to wring a R100 million kickback from her and said the money would go to Memela and then SAAT CEO Musa Zwane.

The contract to supply components to SAA was awarded to AAR and JM Aviation on May 16, 2016. Memela, Zwane and Kwinane travelled to the United States to meet with AAR in 2015.

The commission has heard that senior SAAT executive Mike Kenny cautioned Memela that it was questionable practice to meet with AAR officials while the tender process was underway.

The supply chain manager at the airline, Schalk Human, said the contract would end up costing SAA R1.8 billion.

The national carrier went into voluntary business rescue in December as billions in losses piled up and it needed repeated government bailouts to pay its debt. 

African News Agency