Nontsasa Memela, the former procurement head of SAAT, testifies at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA)

CAPE TOWN - Former South African Airways Technical head of procurement Nontsasa Memela on Wednesday concluded four days of testimony before the Zondo commission of inquiry, insisting that she had done nothing wrong.

Memela held firm throughout her testimony that there was nothing untoward about visiting a bidder and accepting a large donation towards the purchase price of her home from said company's affiliate.

“There is nowhere I influenced the decision to award the contract to AAR and JM Aviation and there is nowhere I ever influenced any decision by any department at SAAT to pay [the two companies]," she said on Wednesday, before being congratulated by her lawyer on a "superb" performance on the witness stand.

Her testimony included the suggestion that she faced graft allegations because she sought to implement a transformation agenda, and that this was compounded by a general perception that when a black executive talks to a black businessman there was corruption involved.

Evidence leader Kate Hofmeyr's questioning of Memela centred on contact, notably a visit replete with private jets and limousines, to a US-based bidder that eventually won a R1.2 billion contract to supply components to SAAT, while the tender process was still under way.

Memela's defence was that she did not sign off on the deal with AAR and local partner JM Aviation.

"It is as if I was far more senior than the board," she said, apparently exasperated.

Memela earlier this week submitted that a payment of R2.5 million by a director of JM Aviation towards her purchase of a Bedfordview house for R3.8 million was not cause for concern because he had bought property from her mother in the Eastern Cape. 

Instead of directing payment to her mother for that, it was agreed that he would advance the money to her, she said.

Her testimony concluded around lunchtime.

The Zondo commission, which is probing the rent-seeking state capture scandal, this week applied to the North Gauteng High Court to extend its mandate to the end of this year. 

The commission said it needed more time to delve into allegations of corruption at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa and other state-owned entities before wrapping up its work.

It was meant to have concluded its work at the beginning of March.

African News Agency