High-flying wife of army general arrested in R100m tender fraud
Couple flaunted their lavish lifestyle - including R8m house, Maserati and overseas trips - but wife is now on R80,000 bail until her trial in December
A former SAA cabin attendant who was living the high life after marrying her army boss boyfriend — and who was allegedly “gifted” defence contracts worth R210m — was arrested on Wednesday morning, NPA spokesperson Sipho Ngwema confirmed.
“The wife of a senior military general, Nombasa Ntsondwa-Ndhlovu, was released on R80,000 bail after her appearance on charges of fraud, involving approximately R100m,” he said.
Ngwema said Ntsondwa-Ndhlovu was arrested on Wednesday, and was released on condition that she makes no contact with witnesses and hands in her passport to the investigating officer.
The matter was remanded to December 9 for the prosecutor to supply the accused with documents.
“A tender was awarded by the SANDF to Umkhombe Marine Pty Ltd (the legal entity belonging to Mrs Ndhlovu) to transport SANDF equipment back to SA from African countries. The contract value was approximately R24m,” Ngwema said.
Ntsondwa-Ndhlovu allegedly provided false information or documents as part of the tender process.
“Thereafter she was awarded another contract of R103m, again to transport SANDF equipment. But the soldiers were recalled from service and this led to the cancellation of the second contract,” Ngwema said.
Ntsondwa-Ndhlovu then claimed R30m expenses from the SANDF, saying this was what the costs were before the cancellation.
“Documents which appear to be false were provided to show the expenses,” Ngwema said.
Last year the Sunday Times reported how online selfies show Maj-Gen Noel Ndhlovu and Ntsondwa-Ndhlovu flaunting their lavish lifestyle. There are pictures of the couple on planes, on overseas holidays and in front of their R8.5m Dainfern, Sandton, home.
In others, she shows off her navy-blue Maserati, and the couple pose with a brand-new silver Range Rover.
The military police have been investigating suspected fraud and corruption in contracts awarded to Ntsondwa-Ndhlovu's company, Umkhombe Marine.
Investigators smelt a rat when they examined some of the tenders Ntsondwa-Ndhlovu had secured. In one, for the transport of military equipment, rival bidders listed included companies that were later revealed to be a taxi business, a stationery supplier and a company that had closed down in 2010 — all of whom claimed to know nothing about any SANDF tender.
A fourth company said it had been invited to tender only five days before the closing date. The company was required to conduct a site visit in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) before handing in its tender documents, making it impossible to meet the deadline.
Ntsondwa-Ndhlovu is also accused of falsifying documents and forging a signature in one of her submissions.
Ntsondwa-Ndhlovu made headlines in 2007 when she accused her boss at SAA of harassing her sexually. She claimed the general manager of flight operations had forcibly kissed her and insisted on sleeping in her room during a team-building weekend.
Ntsondwa-Ndhlovu won her first army contract in 2014 when she was awarded a tender to supply tea and coffee, worth about R1.5m, to the defence force. Later that year she was awarded a R24m contract to transport military equipment from SA to countries where the SANDF has deployed soldiers on missions.
In 2016 — about a month before she married Ndhlovu in August — she was awarded yet another contract, this one for R104m, to transport redundant military equipment from SA to Sudan.
That contract was cancelled over technical issues and Ntsondwa-Ndhlovu claimed R30m as a penalty fee.
In the same year, in lieu of the cancelled R104m contract, she received a subsequent transport contract for the DRC, valued at R79m. At the time her husband was on the military's joint operations committee, which rubber-stamped all mission contracts.
Last year, Ntsondwa-Ndhlovu confirmed that when she was awarded the R104m contract that is being investigated she had not declared that she was romantically involved with Ndhlovu.
Ntsondwa-Ndhlovu and her husband could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.