Former Chief Financial Officer of SAA Ms Phumeza Nhantsi appears before the commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture. Picture: Dimpho Maja/African News Agency(ANA)

Johannesburg - A senior manager at a state-owned airline has revealed how his boss authorised the payment of R31 million to a company whose director could not draft an invoice.

SA Express divisional manager for security management Timothy Ngwenya told the commission of inquiry into state capture that the airline paid whistleblower and businesswoman Babadi Tlatsana’s company Koreneka R31m in four invoices in 2016 for services that were not in the agreement between the two.

The invoices were approved by former SA Express chief executive Inati Ntshanga, according to Ngwenya.

He said SA Express staff was instructed by its former chief financial officer Mark Shelley to load Koreneka’s details into state-owned airline’s SAP system for vendors in May 5, 2016.

"The following day R8.5m was transferred from SA Express to Koreneka,” Ngwenya testified.

He continued: ”On all these transactions the CEO (Ntshanga) appended his signature on the expense authorisations”.

Ntshanga claimed the money was erroneously paid to SA Express when it was intended for Koreneka.

Ngwenya told the commission chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo that Ntshanga claimed the money was not intended for SA Express.

He said Tlatsana had told him that she did not know about these invoices and payments.

"She did not submit any invoices. For that matter, she did not even know how to prepare an invoice. She told me that,” Ngwenya said.
Accountant David Kalisilira was responsible for preparing invoices for Koreneka, he said.

A second payment of R8.5m was effected in August 2016 for airport refurbishment and compliance.

Ngwenya said the third payment for R14m, which was broken into two invoices of less than R10m each for “facility security management” including over R8m for airport fire truck lease.

He said Ntshanga did not have delegation of authority to authorise the payment of over R10m and the R14m invoice was split to circumvent the need to inform the board.

"The board never was informed of these transactions,” Ngwenya said.

Earlier on Wednesday, former SAA chief financial officer Phumeza Nhantsi concluded her testimony by describing her battles with the national carrier’s board headed by then chairperson Dudu Myeni.

Nhantsi said there was so much undue pressure from the board that she confided in her husband that she did not know what she got herself into when she joined SAA and feared for her life.

She denied that she acted negligently during her time as SAA CFO.

“I acted in the best interests of the company,” Nhantsi insisted.

Political Bureau