LIVE FEED: State Capture Inquiry – November 12, 2020
Johannesburg – The Zondo commission will continue to hear Denel-related evidence on Thursday.
Former Denel group chief executive and current group chief executive Talib Sadik, Stephan Burger and Daniel Mantsha are expected to take the stand.
Former Denel chief executive Zwelakhe Ntshepe yesterday conceded the awarding of a multimillion-rand contract to Gupta-owned VR Laser was in breach of the state-owned aerospace and military technology company’s policies.
Ntshepe admitted at the commission of inquiry into state capture the decision to approve the contract was in breach of policy after intense questioning by commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
He had initially testifiedhe thought he had the authority to approve the deal.
Ntshepe defended the single-source supplier agreement between Denel Land Systems (DLS) and VR Laser, saying the memorandum of agreement was already signed with the Gupta-owned company and that he also feared that VR Laser would take Denel to court if it did not honour the agreement.
According to Ntshepe, when he signed the agreement he was not concerned about auditors picking up that the contract was awarded in violation of Denel’s supply chain management policies.
He also denied not taking his subordinates seriously, saying he always took the concerns of people he worked with at Denel very seriously.
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Ntshepe said he overruled Denel’s former group supply chain management executive Mandla Mlambo because the work that needed to be done by VR Laser was urgent.
“What was urgent for me was for the work to be done. I did not undermine him, it was in the best interests of the company to be able to do the work on time,” he said.
Asked by evidence leader Paul Kennedy SC why he undermined former DLS supply chain management executive Celia Malahlela, who queried the awarding of the single-supplier deal with VR Laser, Ntshepe said: “In my tenure at Denel, I ensured that everyone had the ability to do their work without fear or favour. She never came to me and said she was being undermined.”
Ntshepe said former DLS chief executive Stephan Burger was also critical of Mlambo and that in many instances the two executives did not agree with each other.
He also told the commission he instructed former Denel Vehicle Systems (DVS) chief executive Johan Steyn to sign a single-source supplier agreement with VR Laser.
Ntshepe said he gave instructions to Steyn and another executive, Johan Wessels, to negotiate a single-source supplier agreement with VR Laser because it was a resolution from the Denel board.
"I concede and agree I instructed them," he said.
He said it made sense to piggyback on the existing agreement with VR Laser.
Ntshepe said he gave the instruction for the single-source supplier agreement despite the deal between DLS and VR Laser having been done without following proper procurement processes.
"I never forced anyone at Denel to do anything. If Steyn had reservations, he knew what to do. They were not serious reservations," he said.
Ntshepe insisted that he did not force Steyn to sign the agreement with VR Laser.
He said anyone who felt they were forced should have laid a complaint internally or with the Department of Public Enterprises.