Johannesburg - Former SAA chief financial officer Phumeza Nhantsi has told the state capture inquiry that she feared for her life during her time at the national carrier when its chairperson was Dudu Myeni.
Nhantsi told the commission of inquiry into state capture on Thursday that when she met Myeni in Durban she was scared for her life and felt she needed to be careful.
According to Nhantsi, after SAA cancelled a R256 million transaction advisory services contract awarded to little-known BnP Capital she feared Myeni would do what former SAA non-executive director Yakhe Kwinana had warned her about.
”You have a shelf life,” Kwinana apparently told Nhantsi.
She said she had heard that Myeni would go to Sunnyside, Tshwane and write anonymous whistle-blowing reports on an official and put pressure on them to get them fired or suspended.
Myeni was opposed to the cancellation on BnP Capital’s contract and was the only board member that supported the company’s bid to get SAA to pay a R50m cancellation fee.
BnP Capital’s deal was cancelled after it was discovered that its Financial Services Board (FSB) license was suspended. The FSB is now known as the Financial Sector Conduct Authority.
”We were under a lot of pressure … There was a point where we were scared for our lives,” she said.
Nhantsi said she had initially thought the work was doable but later realised there were these “political things, undue pressure from the board”.
She recalled telling her husband: “I don’t know what I got myself into when I joined SAA”.
Nhantsi said despite her concerns for her safety she never received direct threats.
She defended her record during time at SAA, saying she acted in the best interests of the state-owned airline.
Nhantsi said she came to the commission for South Africans to understand the pressure SAA executives were under.