Phumeza Nhantsi has been appointed CFO of SAA. Picture: Supplied
CAPE TOWN - Former SAA chief financial officer Phumeza Nhantsi yesterday threatened legal action against the struggling national airline following her axing for gross financial misconduct, negligence and dishonesty.

Nhantsi dismissed the findings against her as malicious and insisted that she had carried her fiduciary responsibilities at the airline with due diligence.

“For me, the most important thing is to clear my name and reputation.

"To do that, I am embarking on legal action and therefore unable to answer any questions or share more details,” she told Business Report.

Nhantsi was fired by SAA yesterday, together with former acting chief executive Musa Zwane, following recommendations made by advocate Nazeer Cassim, who presided over their disciplinary hearing.

Cassim reportedly recommended that SAA fire the executives for, among other things, not doing more to resist pressure from former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni to appoint BnP Capital to source R15 billion in debt consolidation funds at a fee of R256 million.

'Acted dishonestly'

Nhantsi and Zwane were suspended in March this year for reportedly recommending that the airline enter a contract with BnP to consolidate its debt in 2015.

Cassim reportedly found the executives to have acted dishonestly when they recommended SAA pay BnP Capital a R49m cancellation fee after the airline cancelled the deal.

Zwane was acting SAA chief executive for two years until November, when Vuyani Jarana took over, while Nhantsi was appointed last May after serving as the airline’s interim CFO since November 2015.

Nhantsi, a chartered accountant with experience in the aviation industry, denied the allegations against her, saying she acted with honesty at all times and didn’t violate SAA’s corporate governance policies.

“At all times, I faithfully carried out my duties on behalf of the company to the best of my ability. I have always faithfully complied with my fiduciary duties to SAA. My conscience and record are clear,” she said.

“I acted with honesty and integrity, avoiding actual or apparent conflicts of interest in personal and professional relationships.”

Nhantsi said she was deeply disappointed that SAA management took the action it did, which she described as “malicious” and in “reckless disregard” of her hard work and sacrifices for the good of the company and the shareholder.

“Indeed, it is regrettable that the company has rushed to publicly condemn me in the face of my complete denial of wrongdoing. The allegations against me have no foundation,” said Nhantsi.

SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali confirmed the pair’s axing.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) said it was pleased with the outcome against the executives.

“The outcome of this case takes us one step closer to seeing the former chairperson of the SAA board, Dudu Myeni, held to account for her role in the demise of SAA,” said Rudie Heyneke, Outa’s portfolio manager on transport.

-BUSINESS REPORT