SAA acting CEO Nico Bezuidenhout. File picture: John Woodroof

 Johannesburg - SA Airways (SAA) on Thursday denied rumours that its acting chief executive Nico Bezuidenhout had lied about his qualifications.

“A media inquiry has today brought to light the fact that mischief makers are attempting to besmirch the good name of the Acting Chief Executive Officer of South African Airways (SAA),” the national airline said in a statement.

“They claim that some applicants for the post of SAA CEO - Bezuidenhout among them - have misrepresented their qualifications to the board of SAA... This is utterly false.”

Spokesman Kabelo Ledwaba said a media report on the rumour was expected to appear on Friday. He would not give further details.

SAA said the rumour was an attempt to harm the airline by discrediting its management.

Last month, SAA announced that its then acting CEO Vuyisile Kona had been placed on precautionary suspension with immediate effect. This was based on allegations that had come to the board's attention, and it had a fiduciary duty to investigate, the company said.

The board had asked Bezuidenhout, who was Mango CEO, to oversee the group's operations in the meantime.

SAA on Thursday said Bezuidenhout had never made it a secret that he did not complete his degrees in industrial psychology or transport economics. He chose to rather start working.

“He has completed his MBA course work, but has so far not handed in his thesis as he chose to concentrate on successfully building SAA's low cost carrier, Mango, before completing the degree,” SAA said.

“These facts were laid out transparently and comprehensively in all job applications and CVs he has ever submitted.”

Due to an editing error, SAA's 2011 and 2012 annual reports mistakenly stated that Bezuidenhout had completed his degrees, the company said. - Sapa