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JOHANNESBURG - South Africa’s state carrier South African Airways (SAA) requires a R5bn ($399m) cash injection in the current financial year to help it meet its financial obligations, a senior treasury official said on Tuesday.

National Treasury director-general Dondo Mogajane told parliament the cash injection could however not come from government, which has so far pumped R20 billion into the firm.

Mogajane said treasury was willing to consider selling a stake in the airliner to a private equity partner. 

Deputy minister of finance, Mondli Gungubele has also confirmed that SAA needs another R12 billion from government over the next 3 years. 

The cash will be used to continue operations and will help service its current debt. 

Earlier in March, Business Report reported that the national airline was in a much deeper financial crisis than previously thought, with Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu reporting that it had suffered losses to the tune of R5.5 billion last year - much higher than the R1.47bn it reported in 2016.

Makwetu said yesterday that the history of the losses, lack of working capital and volatility in foreign exchange controls, created material uncertainty on the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.

He gave SAA a qualified audit opinion, meaning he could also not find some of the records of the assets of the airline.

He said the airline’s liabilities exceeded its assets by R17.8bn - up from R12.3bn in 2015/16.