Dudu Myeni wanted heads to roll, court hears
Johannesburg - Former SA Airways (SAA) board chairperson Dudu Myeni allegedly wanted the national carrier to fire its chief financial officer and treasury department officials for inviting the major banks to tender for the airline's R15 billion debt recapitalisation programme.
This was the damning evidence submitted by ex-SAA group chief executive Nico Bezuidenhout during his second day of testimony against Myeni at the high court in Pretoria on Monday.
Bezuidenhout said the move signalled the “sour relationship” he had with Myeni.
He further indicated that at one stage, he was summoned to Myeni’s office and she allegedly wanted him to act against the chief financial officer Wolf Meyer and some officials within SAA’s treasury department who had sent request for proposals (RFPs) to the banks.
Bezuidenhout revealed that Myeni allegedly wanted international banking company BnP Capital to be given the tender. “In her bid to force the appointment of BnP Capital, Ms Myeni accused me of giving business to Indian people,” Bezuidenhout said.
BnP was appointed in March 2016 but its contract was terminated after the organisation was not in possession of a financial service provider’s licence.
Bezuidenhout also alleged that Myeni had wanted him to fire SAA chief commercial director Sylvain Bosc, adding: “She told me that there are a lot of “French people in SAA. Bosc is originally from France.”
Bezuidenhout also told the court how his refusal to act on Myeni’s instructions landed him in hot water adding that she had told him she had a “three whistle-blowers report” on him.
One of the allegations, he said, was that he had stolen four aircraft belonging to the SAA.
Other allegations levelled against him, he said, included the fact that he was a shareholder at Edcon and Shoprite-Checkers adding he was also accused of using SAA funds to pay for Mango's fuel as he had worked at the airline prior to joining SAA in 2013.
Bezuidenhout maintained that he was acquitted on all of allegations against him but only received the official finding of the law firm last week.
Earlier on Monday, Bezuidenhout also revealed how Myeni allegedly instructed him not to sign the R1.5bn SAA/Emirates deal through a telephone call and WhatsApp message.
He said he was already in Paris to sign a deal when he received a call at 2am on June 16, 2015, instructing him not to sign the deal. He testified that Myeni told him that former president Jacob Zuma allegedly did not want him to sign the deal.
“She was furious and accused me of having embarrassed the country and the president. She told me that the Emirates people have contacted the president. Later on, she said I should not sign the deal. She also said the president did not want me to sign the deal. I never heard the President saying it but Ms Myeni mentioned the president’s name,” Bezuidenhout said.
He further revealed that seven hours later, Myeni allegedly sent a WhatsApp to him and instructed him not to execute the deal.
“I then took the WhatsApp message and circulated to some of the officials who accompanied me to Paris for the signing of the deal,” Bezuidenhout said.
He also told the court that cabin crew members were already dressed up for the occasion when he received WhatsApp message.
Bezuidenhout’s testimony forms part of the court application by Outa and the SAA Pilots Association (Saapa) to declare Myeni a delinquent director.
Outa and Saapa in their court papers have listed the failed SAA and Emirates partnership as one of the key reasons that the high court in Pretoria should rule in their favour.
Bezuidenhout further gave the court a detailed account of how Myeni’s had allegedly ignored numerous requests to approve the deal.
But during cross-examination, Myeni’s counsel, advocate Nqabayethu Buthelezi, said the entire deal was a “sham” which was “hollow on substance”.
Buthelezi is on Tuesday expected to cross-examine Bezuidenhout on Myeni’s version to halt the deal.