Former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo has been named at the Zondo Commission into allegations of state capture as one of the ANC leaders who benefited from SA Express airline’s undue payments. File photo: Nokuthula Mbatha African News Agency (ANA)
Johannesburg - The ANC allegedly sent one of its staffers to persuade a senior manager at a state-owned airline to drop a sensitive investigation - and offered him a R3million bribe.

The probe into state capture on Wednesday heard the shocking revelations of how in August 2016 SA Express divisional manager for security management Timothy Ngwenya was approached by a “Sipho”, who claimed to have a mandate from Luthuli House.

”I need to talk to you, I’ve got a mandate from Luthuli House,” Ngwenya remembered the man saying over the phone.

At the time, Ngwenya was investigating R31m that had been paid by SA Express to a company known as Koreneka, which was approved by the airline’s former chief executive, Anati Ntshanga.

Ngwenya said the ANC’s Sipho told him that the money that had moved out of the North West was meant to finance the party’s political activities and campaigns.

“I’m not a politician, I cannot be talking about Luthuli House mandates,” Ngwenya insisted to Sipho.

Ngwenya was promised R3m to drop the investigation.

He also revealed the names of more ANC leaders who received undue payments from a North West company.

Ngwenya said former public enterprises minister Lynne Brown, then transport minister Dipuo Peters and former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo were identified by whistle-blower and businesswoman Babadi Tlatsana as some of the beneficiaries of two payments totalling R51m.

Peters resigned as ANC MP in 2017 but returned after last month’s elections, while Brown stepped down as the governing party’s MP in March last year after she was removed as public enterprises minister by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Besides implicating Brown and Peters, Tlatsana also fingered national and provincial government officials, a head of department, an MEC and a ‘Mr Wolmarans’, who Ngwenya described as Mahumapelo’s right-hand man.

According to Ngwenya, Tlatsana’s company, Koreneka, received R31m from SA Express and another R20m from the North West government in 2016.

He said Tlatsana implicated former SA Express board chairperson George Mutema and Ntshanga and its former general manager: commercial, Brian van Wyk.

Ngwenya told the commission that Mutema and Ntshanga initiated the deal, and that they were privy to whatever was happening.

He said Van Wyk was working on their instructions.

“Tlatsana could not really account for the R31m,” Ngwenya said, adding that she was not directly involved in the disbursement of the millions.

Ngwenya later met Ntshanga and SA Express general manager: legal, risk and compliance, Merriam Mochoele, and they all listened to the two recordings that Tlatsana had made.

He said he found it strange that Ntshanga told him to look into the matter verbally, but not in writing.

Ngwenya suggested that Ntshanga report the matter to the authorities in terms of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.

During his internal investigation, Ngwenya established that the contract for Koreneka was drafted by former SA Express legal adviser Nasiphi Mkentane, without any company name and figures, and forwarded to Van Wyk.

The payment of R31m to Koreneka was confirmed by credit department supervisor Busisiwe Mavuso, according to Ngwenya.

He also discovered that former SA Express chief financial officer Mark Shelley instructed junior staff to load Koreneka’s details into the airline’s SAP system for vendors.

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

Once Ngwenya concluded his investigation, SA Express planned to suspend Van Wyk, with only him, Ntshanga, former senior employee relations specialist Nomfusi Gcakini and general manager for human ­capital Kgatile Nkala being aware of the move.

Political Bureau