Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. File photo by Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - The owner of a North West company is expected to testify at the state capture inquiry on how SA Express and the provincial government paid her R51 million despite her inability to draw up invoices.

Businesswoman Babadi Tlatsana will give evidence of how her Koreneka Trading and Projects was paid by the North West Community Safety and Transport Department when she did not know anything about the invoices and payments.

SA Express divisional manager for security management Timothy Ngwenya, who was investigating the payments from the state-owned airline, discovered that R31m was paid between May and August 2015 ostensibly for ground handling services Koreneka provided at the Pilanesberg and Mahikeng airports.

Commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on Thursday warned Tlatsana, who has been summoned to appear before the inquiry, to be present today.

The other R20m Koreneka received from the provincial government was the subject of attempts by a man who told Ngwenya he was on a mandate from ANC headquarters Luthuli House.

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The man, who Ngwenya could only recall as “Sipho”, wanted him to speak to Tlatsana to allow former SA Express general manager for commercial Brian van Wyk access to it as she (Tlatsana) seemed to understand him (Ngwenya).

Former acting SAA Technical chief executive Arson Phiri also told the commission that he took temporary retirement after feeling there was something wrong at the national carrier and how it was run.

“I must also state that going back to the issue about integrity and ethics, because these things cannot be legislated, it’s something you feel in your gut or the voice that talks to you between your ears,” he said.

He eventually left SAA Technical in May 2016 but a week later, he got a call from the unit’s chairperson Yakhe Kwinana, who at that stage was also an SAA board member.

Kwinana, according to Phiri, told him that his departure had left a vacuum and that given the fact that SAA Technical is a highly regulated institution and compliance was key and without a CEO, it could call into question its licence.

“She (Kwinana) asked me to go back for at least a month or two in order to close the gap. The thinking was that they would have secured the services of a substantive CEO. In fact, the chief executive of SAA Technical before I got the acting role was Musa Zwane, who was then asked to act as SAA CEO,” he said.

Phiri said when Kwinana asked him to go back for two months the thinking was that they would have been able to finalise the recruitment of a group executive committee, in which case Zwane would go back to his old role of SAA Technical chief executive.

He said he agreed after careful ­consideration and spent one and a half months and left at the end of August.

Phiri said it was during the brief period he was back at SAA Technical when Kwinana resigned as a board member and told him SAA’s corporate governance was being compromised.

Political Bureau