Former South African Airways (SAA) chief financial officer Phumeza Nhantsi said it was strange that Masotsha Mngadi was not on the SAA payroll, despite being former chairperson Dudu Myeni’s adviser.
Nhantsi testified at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture in Parktown on Tuesday.
Nhantsi said Mngadi would advise on matters related to board decisions and resolutions, but she found it strange that he was involved as a third party who was not part of the airline’s executive.
“It did raise a bell, but Miss Myeni said Mr Mngadi is my person for any issue that I need to get clarity on if Mr Zwane is not aware of any details regarding Mr Mngadi.”
Deputy Chief Justice Zondo wanted to know how this wasn’t in violation of SAA protocols. He asked: “If SAA needs advisers, should advisers not be secured or procured in a certain manner and paid by the SAA?”
Nhantsi agreed with Zondo’s statement.
Nhantsi said the board led by Myeni ignored the airline’s procurement processes in their appointment of the Free State Development Corporation to provide funding for the embattled airline.
SAA was trying to source R15 billion in funding for its restructuring project in 2015.
Nhantsi’s testimony at the inquiry backed up the testimony of former SAA treasurer Cynthia Stimpel that after an extensive procurement process, their recommendations to appoint Seacrest Investment Management were rejected.
The company was willing to provide the entire R15 billion at an interest rate of 5.8%, but the board declined the offer in favour of the Free State Development Corporation.
Nhantsi said this was against procedures.
I WAS USED BY POLITICALLY CONNECTED INDIVIDUALS
Nhantsi said she believes she was used by rich and politically connected individuals to enrich themselves.
Nhantsi said this was not within the purview of the corporation as it was a state-owned entity and she was sceptical whether they would be able to raise the money.
“And knowing what I know, having the testimony of Mr Van Der Merwe, I see that in a way I was used as a scapegoat or vehicle for people to enrich themselves.”
Nhantsi said she had an idea why Myeni awarded the tender to the corporation: “Chair, in my discussion with Mr Moyo at the time, he mentioned the chairperson was the sister of Mr Ace Magashule and that time I couldn’t link anything because I was coming from the professional background of looking at the audits and I was not really clued up with politics.”