Nontsasa Memela the former procurement head of SAA before Chairperson of the State Capture Deputy Chief Justice Ray Zondo to deliver her testimony. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/ African News Agency (ANA)
Nontsasa Memela the former procurement head of SAA before Chairperson of the State Capture Deputy Chief Justice Ray Zondo to deliver her testimony. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/ African News Agency (ANA)

Former head of procurement at SAAT denies unlawful handling of tender contract

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Feb 12, 2020

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Johannesburg - The former head of procurement at the SA Airways Technical (SAAT) has denied that she unlawfully influenced the awarding negotiations in a components tender because of a conflict of interest. 

Nontsasa Memela took the stand for the fourth day at the Zondo commission on Wednesday. She was questioned on her handling of a components tender which was awarded to US-based aviation company AAR Corporation and SA-based JM Aviation. The five-year contract was awarded in 2016 and worth R1.4 billion. 

SAAT forms part of South African Airways and deals with the maintenance of the airline's aircraft. 

In investigations, it was brought to light that Memela had purchased a property in Bedfordview for R3.8 million. Of the total amount owed R2.5 million was paid by JM Aviation towards Memela's property. When asked about the transfers, Memela explained that there was nothing untoward about the payment. 

She claimed that JM Aviation director Vuyo Ndzeku had purchased land from her mother and it was decided that instead of the funds being paid to her mother they would go towards her Bedfordview property purchase. 

She maintained that she was conflicted when she worked on the contract and that her decision making was not influenced by the payment. She said the two issues were separate. 

"No, Chair. There is no way where I had influenced the decision by anyone at SAAT because I received a payment from JM Aviation. I played my role to the best of my ability. But where I have to answer on behalf of the acting CEO as if I have the power to influence, no, I did not have any influence," she said. 

Memela was also questioned on why SAAT had decided to make an upfront deposit to AAR of R60 million when the contract had been concluded and work had not been done. Memela insisted that if SAAT had not paid that upfront payment then AAR would have justified in not delivering components. 

"It was not onerous to SAAT to pay that amount. SAAT not paying that amount of money AAR would be entitled to keep that component and us not being able to use the aircraft on the ground. AAR made it clear that it is their policy to make the deposit. 

She was also questioned on why the contract had no protection clause for SAAT which would also include a penalty and exit clause. 

In her response, she insisted that SAAT representatives had worked hard to fight for clauses in the contract and that she should not be held solely responsible for clauses that were not included. 

"When you manage a contract, you go through it and raise certain gaps. I do not remember that being raised. I would have seen a need to review the contract if the person managing the contract had raised concerns about the contract,” she said. 

Memela will return to face cross-examination from her legal team on an undisclosed date. 

IOL

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