Suspicious airline payments under scrutiny at #StateCaptureInquiry
Johannesburg - A senior North West provincial government official refused to process a R20-million payment to a company appointed to provide ground handling services at the Pilanesberg and Mahikeng airports.
Kutlwano Phatudi, who has been the North West community safety and transport management department’s chief financial officer since 2013, told the commission of inquiry into state capture on Friday that she only became aware of the strange deal between her department and state-owned airline SA Express only when she was asked to process the R20m for management company Koreneka Trading and Projects.
Phatudi said she asked for the basis of the payment to Koreneka when the department’s agreement with SA Express stated that the airline could only appoint a management company after consulting it.
“There was no proof that the department was involved in the appointment of the management company,” she said.
The commission chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo also heard that the provincial executive committee led by former premier Supra Mahumapelo approved the appointment of SA Express without following proper procurement procedures.
Justice Zondo said he found the agreement strange because Mahumapelo and his MECs approved SA Express’ appointment to revive the Pilanesberg and Mahikeng airports and but told officials to get the analysis of the presentations made by potential bidders.
“How do you start by making a decision and afterwards say bring me the information that is needed to make the decision after you have already made the decision?” Justice Zondo asked.
Phatudi said the signing of the deal with SA Express was not in line with the provisions of section 217 of the Constitution and that the project was not advertised
“I would have known if the procurement processes were followed. I was the chairperson of the bid adjudication committee as chief financial officer,” she said, adding that the specifications for the deal would have been presented to her.
Phatudi said she was not aware of any justification for not following proper procurement processes.
Koreneka director Babadi Tlatsana is also scheduled to testify before Justice Zondo on Friday afternoon.