Mcebisi Jonas denies claims he benefited from B-BBEE contract with SAAT
Johannesburg - Former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas has denied allegations that he benefited from a B-BBEE contract with South African Airways Technical (SAAT).
Jonas’s name was mentioned in the evidence of Sibongile Sambo, a director at SRS Aviation, which supplies helicopter rental services, at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture on Wednesday.
Sambo’s evidence was largely based on prospective business deals in which her company hoped to partner with a US-based aviation supplier company, AAR Corporation.
She explained that she had hoped to work with AAR in supplying aviation components to SAAT.
SAAT, from 2013, had issued various tenders for the supply of aviation components. Sambo had hoped to form part of a bid application proposal solely with AAR, but other individuals joined the application, to secure a five-month component supply contract from SAAT.
The groups formed a B-BBEE consortium with Sambo’s company SRS receiving a share and other individuals also receiving a share in the partnership along with AAR.
Sambo told the inquiry that businessman Bongani More had held a 13.33% stake in the consortium for Jonas, as they were family relatives.
Jonas was also mentioned in Sambo’s evidence regarding a meeting that took place in Cape Town between AAR representative, Cheryl Jackson, and a Mr Bagus, who allegedly had arranged the meeting and had strong political connections and was a BEE expert.
Sambo said she did not know what was discussed at the meeting as she was not invited to attend.
Jonas, however, disputed Sambo’s accounts. He admitted that he had attended a meeting in Cape Town, but said there was nothing nefarious about the meeting. “It is correct that I was invited to a dinner in Cape Town where I was introduced to a Ms Jackson, representative of AAR, whom I was informed was interested in investing in South Africa,” he said.
“I told Ms Jackson that she should speak to the relevant management of SAA. I made it clear that I was not involved in the management of either SAA or SAAT. I do not believe that Ms Sambo’s unsubstantiated allegations should be left unchallenged.”
Jonas also denied being involved in a B-BBEE deal and having any relations with More. “This is false. She provides no evidence for this gratuitous allegation, other than what is colloquially referred to as ‘double hearsay’.
“The allegation that I am related to Bongani More or that he held shares on my behalf in the BEE consortium which participated in a response to a tender with AAR is false. I have never held any interest whatsoever in any BEE consortium which partnered with AAR.”
He added: “I have limited personal knowledge of the relationship between AAR and the BEE consortia with which it sought to partner. Neither of the allegations which she makes about me are based on any personal knowledge, nor has she provided any documentary evidence for the allegations made.”
Sambo also made various allegations against some SAAT board members concerning dealings with AAR, including former SAAT board chairperson Yakhe Kwinana.
Sambo alleged that Kwinana had requested a R100 million bribe from AAR if they were to secure the tender for the components deal.
AAR was eventually awarded a five-year components contract with another B-BBEE partner while Sambo’s SRS was excluded.
Sambo said she was devastated when she heard that she was sidelined for another BEE partner and was never paid for her work with AAR.IOL