Nontsasa Memela, the former procurement head of SAAT, during the Zondo Commission of Inquiry. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/Reuters
Nontsasa Memela, the former procurement head of SAAT, during the Zondo Commission of Inquiry. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/Reuters

Zondo commission hearing on SAA Technical intensifies during heated exchange

By ANA Reporter Time of article published Feb 11, 2020

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Cape Town - While the North Gauteng High Court hears an application to extend the lifespan of the Zondo commission of inquiry into the state capture scandal until the end of the year, its hearings on dubious dealings at South African Airways Technical (SAAT) continue on Tuesday.

This saw a testy exchange between evidence leader Kate Hofmeyr and former SAAT head of procurement Nontsasa Memela.

Memela, who has denied allegations of bribery, maintained that there was nothing untoward about visiting US-based aviation company AAR and sharing pricing information with them via a local empowerment partner.

She said this was because the final decision on awarding the components contract for which AAR was bidding, did not lie with her.

Memela's time on the stand has grown from one scheduled day to three, and on Tuesday, she accused Hofmeyr of being hostile towards her.

Hofmeyr said this was neither helpful nor true. She asked Memela whether it was correct to say that she saw no problem with SAAT board members and herself being hosted in lavish style by AAR on a trip to the United States (US) while the tender process was still under way.

"You see that as a concern; I do not," Memela said.

On Monday, the commission heard her explain that R2.5 million paid towards her Bedfordview home by a director of JM Aviation, a partner in the R1.2 billion contract finally awarded to AAR, was justified by a deal between her mother and one of the directors. 

She said Vuyo Ndzeku had bought land in the Eastern Cape owned by her mother and they had arranged that instead of paying her mother, the money would go towards the purchase of the Bedfordview home.

The North Gauteng High Court is hearing an urgent application to extend the mandate of the commission from the end of February to the end of December.

In a 68-page application to the court, Judge Zondo sets out the work of the commission to date and states that various witnesses have implicated several high profile people in acts of graft at various state-owned entities.

He said the commission wanted to turn its attention to alleged corruption at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa).

“In addition to the hearing of (second round of) evidence under Phase 2, there is still Prasa in relation to which no evidence at all has been led. The Commission still needs to hear all evidence relating to allegations of corruption, fraud and other irregularities at Prasa," IOL quoted from his court papers.

“No less than 10 witnesses will be heard in relation to Prasa. That is leaving out time that may be required for cross-examination should I grant some of the implicated people leave to cross-examine witnesses who implicate them," Zondo said.

Judgment was reserved.

African News Agency (ANA)

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