Dudu Myeni and ex-SAA boss Musa Zwane implicated in R1.3bn tender
Former SAA board chair Dudu Myeni and the airline's former chief executive Musa Zwane were on Wednesday implicated in a controversial R1.3bn contract for aircraft components.
This was part of the testimony led by Sibongile Sambo, founding member and director of SRS Aviation, which was apparently sabotaged and sidelined from the contract for supply of aircraft components to SAA. She was speaking at the Zondo commission into state capture on Wednesday.
According to Sambo, her company was meant to be a BEE partner to US company AAR Aviation, which was the main contractor. However, she said SRS Aviation was eventually replaced with JM Aviation, owned by Buyisile Ndzeku.
With various SAA staff and bosses having interest, the contract was so hotly contested that it went out to tender three times after no award was made after two adverts.
It was eventually given to AAR Aviation and JM Aviation in 2016, with the former benefiting 95% of the total value as the main contractor. The remaining 5% went to JM Aviation as the BEE partner.
After SSR missed out, testified Sambo, she had a fallout with head of procurement at SAA Technical (SAAT), Nontsasa Memela.
It was this fallout that led to Memela telling Sambo, who had threatened court action to set aside the awarding of the contract, that Zwane and Myeni would also suffer if she took the legal route as they also played some part in the saga.
Sambo said this was backed up by text messages she had received from Memela after the fallout. "Ms Memela indicated that she did not work alone to assist AAR for the bid submission and she specifically mentioned Ms Princess Tshabalala, who was senior manager at procurement at SAAT," said Sambo.
Tshabalala had apparently once confronted Sambo, begging her not to take the legal route as she would lose her job.
Sambo then proceeded to read the text message she allegedly received from Memela on March 20 2017, implicating Myeni and Zwane.
"All I want to know is when did this become about me? When did I become your sudden enemy? All I ever did for you was to help - even the information you have now was sent to you in good faith to help you," reads Memela's text message to Sambo.
"I want you to be honest with me: when did I ever wrong you that you would vouch to destroy my career? My sister, I feel so betrayed right now.
"I had the tell the CEO [Zwane] and Yakhe [Kwinana, the chairperson of SAAT] as they will also get affected [by your legal action]," the text message goes on.
"They also want a meeting with you ... How do I trust you now, going forward? I would not worry if this was just about me, but many people were involved who have no idea what you are planning.
"I told you about sis' D, that she wanted me to help AJ Walter to win, but I could not and now I am an enemy. I understand [Myeni] but you - it is a pill I find difficult to swallow."
Sambo said that "sis' D" referred to Myeni, when asked for clarification.
Sambo earlier told the commission that during the second advert of the same tender where no award was made, Kwinana had requested a R100m bribe - which she, Zwane and Memela were going to benefit from.
During the preparation for bid submission for the third advert, said Sambo, Kwinana's "runner" Kuki Mdlulwa repeated the demand for R100m kickback in a meeting with AAR representative Sheryl Jackson, who asked to take the request to her "partner" as she could not make the decision alone.
It did not become apparent at the end of Sambo's testimony whether or not AAR paid the kickback, but what was explicit is that the contract worth R1.3bn was finally awarded to them in 2016.
SAA-related testimony continues on Thursday, while Memela has been summoned to appear on Friday.