Nontsasa Memela, the former procurement head of SAAT, during the Zondo Commission of Inquiry. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/Reuters/African News Agency (ANA)
Nontsasa Memela, the former procurement head of SAAT, during the Zondo Commission of Inquiry. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/Reuters/African News Agency (ANA)

SAAT tender head Nontsasa Memela slams damning allegations before Zondo commission

By ANA Reporter Time of article published Feb 10, 2020

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Cape Town - The former head of procurement at South African Airways Technical (SAAT) on Monday denied in testimony to the Zondo commission that she had signed off on the dubious sale of components to a company that secured a multi-billion rand contract in a tender bid marred by bribery allegations.

Nontsasa Memela was grilled about her role in the sale of 12 ground power units (GPU) for less than half of their market value to JM Aviation.

The units are used to power-up aircraft while they are on the runway.  

A forensic investigation by Open Water Advanced Risk Solutions found that there were several irregularities in how SAAT disposed of these to JM Aviation, which won a contract with SAAT along with US-based aviation company AAR Corporation. 

SAAT bought the GPUs for R800 000 each and sold them to JM Aviation for R248 000 each while they were still new.

According to press reports, JM Aviation in turn sold them to Swissport, a Swiss-based aviation company, for R3.3 million. 

Memela was tasked by the SAAT board with negotiating the deal and was on Monday asked by the evidence leader of the Zondo commission, Advocate Kate Hofmeyr, and its chairman, Judge Raymond Zondo, whether she had in fact approved the deal, IOL reported.

She replied that other executives had been part of the meeting where the sale was given the green light, though affidavits from some of them dispute this. 

She suggested that SAAT CEO Musa Zwane had approved the sale price in writing, adding that she did not have the power to accept the offer.

"I did not have the power to accept the offer. I did not write the email to accept the price. There is no written communication except a signed invoice. The fact that he signed means we discussed the invoice,” she said. 

Memela has been on the stand for several days, and has also denied allegations that the manner in which the contract was awarded to AAR and JM Aviation was suspect.

Among the claims before the commission, is that JM Aviation paid R2.5 million towards a house Memela purchased in Bedfordview and that she was given a salary increase for her role in awarding the contract to the company and US partner while they were not the preferred bidders.

Memela told the commission that there was nothing untoward in the transfer of funds from JM Aviation to her account.

She said JM Aviation director Vuyo Ndzeku had in fact purchased land from her mother and it was decided that instead of the funds being paid to her mother they would go towards her Bedfordview property purchase. 

African News Agency (ANA)

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