Former SAA Chairperson Cheryl Carolus testifying at the state capture inquiry. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha/AfricanNewsAgency/ANA

Johannesburg - Former ANC deputy secretary-general Cheryl Carolus says she wants her country back and has encouraged others to come before the Zondo commission to assist it in its investigation of state capture. 

Carolus concluded her testimony on Thursday and told the inquiry about her tenure as the chairperson of the South African Airways (SAA) board. 

She served on the board from 2009 until 2012 when she and eight other board members resigned in relation to their strained relationship with then public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba. 

She told the inquiry of how Gigaba, who had been appointed to replace Barbara Hogan who was fired in 2010, worked against the board’s efforts to turn-around SAA. 

The last straw for her and fellow board members was when Gigaba lied and told Parliament in 2012 that the airline's inability to submit its financial statements for the 2011/2012 financial year was because the statements were not ready. 

She said the board had the financial statements ready at the time. Carolus said Gigaba had also not been truthful with regards to a government guarantee for SAA. 

Carolus said this was what prompted the board members to resign in 2012 – strained relationship with Gigaba. 

Earlier, the commission heard how Gigaba bent over backwards to try and force the SAA board to drop the Johannesburg to Mumbai route. This route was being sought by Jet Airways which has links to the controversial Gupta family. 

Gigaba also undermined the board and often publicly berated them, accusing them of being incompetent and unpatriotic. 

Carolus ended her testimony by encouraging others that worked in government to come forward and help the commission. 

She criticised the EFF’s attack on the commission and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. 

“What frightened me was the vitriol against the commission itself. I do not understand why people who claim to have such information do not make themselves available to put these facts here. I am pleased that minister Gordhan has actually decided to take legal action. There is a reason to be fearful of people who incite levels of violence that is thinly veiled,” she said.

“This is a great country of ours and it came at a huge price. We have the most amazing nation of people, but we are poorly led. I think that the work of this commission is so crucial. I want my country back. They have made an attempt at stealing our present and tried to distort our future, but I am not going allow them to steal our future,” said Carolus. 

The commission will resume next Tuesday. It’s unclear at this stage which witness the commission will hear next. 

* Read more on the #StateCaptureInquiry here .

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