Former Denel Group CEO Zwelakhe Ntshepe will appear at the Zondo commission. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Former Denel Group CEO Zwelakhe Ntshepe will appear at the Zondo commission. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

LIVE FEED: State Capture Inquiry – November 11, 2020

By Loyiso Sidimba Time of article published Nov 11, 2020

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Johannesburg – The Zondo commission will continue to hear Denel-related evidence on Wednesday.

Former Denel Group CEO Zwelakhe Ntshepe, Dr Stephan Nell, and Pieter van der Merwe are expected to take the stand.

On Tuesday former Denel chief financial officer Fikile Mhlontlo admitted that the multimillion-rand contract that the state-owned aerospace and military technology company previously signed with Gupta-owned VR Laser was irregular.

Mhlontlo told the commission chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo that he believed that no proper processes were followed in the R195 million contract.

He said the entire process was rendered irregular and unfair by the mishaps that occurred in the adjudication of the tender.

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"I had no knowledge that they had gone to one supplier,” Mhlontlo maintained when grilled by evidence leader Paul Kennedy SC.

Mhlontlo was the chief financial officer of Denel during the period when VR Laser was awarded the contract despite Denel's then subsidiary LMT Holdings’ quote being about R100 million less.

Several former Denel executives have testified before the commission, telling Justice Zondo that the company favoured the Gupta-owned company.

Mandla Mlambo, who was Denel’s group supply chain management executive until last year, told the commission that Denel was awarded a US$18.2 million (about R297.4m at today’s exchange rate) contract by the Chad government to supply 40 military Casspir vehicles which were to be sourced from VR Laser.

He said he was asked to approve the awarding of the contract to VR Laser despite the fact that Denel was able to fulfil the requirements for the contract below cost and that the deal was going to cost it money.

Mlambo testified that he brought the manipulation of procurement processes to the attention of Denel’s former group chief executive, Riaz Saloojee, and Mhlontlo.

Mhlontlo on Tuesday admitted that Mlambo had raised his concerns but maintained that he was not the person ultimately responsible for approving VR Laser’s contract due to Denel’s delegation of authority.

Celia Malahlela, a former supply chain management executive at Denel Land Systems, told Mhlontlo that she was unhappy with how the matter of VR Laser’s contract was handled.

According to Malahlela, who gave evidence two weeks ago, she highlighted her concerns to Mhlontlo.

But when she raised her concerns, she was told the agreement with VR Laser superseded Denel policies.

Former Denel chief executive Zwelakhe Ntshepe also began giving evidence at the commission on Tuesday.

He told Zondo that the idea for Denel’s joint venture with VR Laser was brought to him by his former boss, Riaz Saloojee, the company’s group chief executive at the time, three months before it was approved in December 2015.

Political Bureau

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