Myeni makes U-turn on 2017 plea
On Monday, Myeni made an interlocutory application asking the court to rescind the plea she made in which she admitted that the SAA board took several procurement decisions that are the subject of the litigation lodged against her by non-profit civil rights organisation Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) and the SAA Pilots Association (Saapa).
Outa and Saapa want Myeni to be declared a delinquent director.
In their papers, they told the court that the SAA board’s appointment of BnP Capital in April 2016 as a transaction adviser to SAA was unlawful.
They also questioned the board’s extension in May 2016 of the BnP Capital contract to include sourcing funding of R15 billion for SAA, highlighting that BnP had by then lost its financial services provider licence.
Other matters Outa want aired in court include the SAA board’s decision in July 2016 to pay BnP a cancellation fee of R49.9m for a failed contract that was allegedly irregular and unlawful.
This also includes that in June 2015, Myeni unlawfully intervened in a board-approved deal between SAA and Emirates airline to block it, claiming that then-President Jacob Zuma had reservations about the deal - resulting in significant financial losses and reputational harm for SAA.
Outa also pointed out that in 2013, Myeni unlawfully interfered in the financing of SAA’s contract to buy 20 new Airbus A320-200 aircraft, apparently to gain a financial advantage for another party. It further emerged that in September 2015, the former chairperson intervened to block an SAA agreement with Airbus to cancel the purchase of the remaining 10 aircraft in favour of leasing five planes, with Outa arguing that Myeni’s action was intended to improperly involve and benefit a new aircraft leasing company, thus creating unnecessary costs to SAA.
Myeni’s counsel, advocate Nqabayethu Buthelezi, yesterday told the court that Myeni was not legally aware of what her previous attorneys filed on her behalf. He asked the court to strike out the plea explanation, but Outa and Saapa opposed the application.
Outa and Saapa counsel advocate Carol Steinberg said Myeni had previously admitted that BNP did not have a valid financial services provider licence when it was appointed to source R15 billion in funds for SAA.
“An admission of these facts could not have been made lightly. They were clearly matters within Ms Myeni’s knowledge as chairperson of SAA at the time,” Steinberg argued.
No decision was made on Myeni’s initial application as she expected to bring a joinder application today for other board members, during her tenure, to be added in the civil case.