Former SAA procurement boss denies taking R2.5m bribe from Vuyo Ndzeku
Former SAA Technical (SAAT) procurement head Nontsasa Memela has denied controversial businessman Vuyo Ndzeku paid for her Bedfordview home.
The state capture inquiry heard this week how Ndzeku allegedly captured SAA officials, including Memela, by paying them millions in exchange for them favouring Swissport and JM Aviation, companies in which he was a director.
During Ndzeku’s testimony on Wednesday, the inquiry heard that R2.5m he paid to "purchase land" from Memela’s mother ended up financing Memela’s home.
The purchase was exposed to have never taken place, and was allegedly instead used as an excuse to conceal that the intended recipient of the R2.5m was Memela.
Memela has come out strongly against the allegation, insisting that the land purchase by Ndzeku did happen and that the money ended up with her as a gift from her mother.
Memela accused the inquiry of being “vindictive” in the manner it conducted its investigation into Ndzeku’s claim of a land purchase for marijuana farming.
“The inquiry’s investigating team did not ask the correct people about the land. They asked the Cholani family, which is where my mother was born, instead of asking the Manzi family, where my grandmother was born,” she told TimesLIVE.
“Also to expect the process of selling land in the villages to be the same as in the urban areas is absurd.
“The inquiry’s team didn’t do their research in this regard. Instead they were pushing their agenda that there must have been corruption involved.”
In his testimony Ndzeku conceded that the land sale agreement and an affidavit attached to it, purportedly signed in 2015, were signed in 2019.
Memela said this is was not true.
She slammed the inquiry for concluding that her mother’s signature on the documents was fake.
Memela said: “It is also not true that I had colluded with Mr Ndzeku to forge any documents. The evidence leader’s assumptions are rather malicious and have no substance in that she claims my mother’s signature was forged.
“My mother had no signature. Instead she would write her initials and surname where she was supposed to sign.
“For the inquiry’s handwriting expert to compare how she wrote her name more than 20 years ago, when she did an affidavit for me to get an ID, versus her writing in 2015 can never be considered as a reasonable comparison. Even I do not write the same as I used to write 20 years ago.”
According to Memela, there was no reason for Ndzeku to pay her a bribe as she had never assisted him in his dealings with SAA.
“The evidence leader is pushing her own narrative of making the public believe Mr Ndzeku paid me to help him with a tender. I am still trying to understand which tender I gave to Mr Ndzeku,” she said.
Memela insisted she did not at any point sway decisions to favour Swissport and JM Aviation during her time as procurement boss at SAAT.
Instead, whatever she did, she said, was to carry out the decisions of the board.
“The components tender awarded to AAR/JM was also not awarded by myself nor the procurement team. I had explained this during my testimony at the inquiry, and I have submitted the documents to prove such.
“This decision was not taken by me but by the board. Then why would the evidence leader assume I was paid for this tender by Mr Ndzeku? The desperation by Ms Hofmeyr [advocate Kate Hofmeyr] to link that R2.5m for the land to the tenders is unjustifiable and unreasonable.
“For the evidence leader to assume I was paid, I have this to say. Out of all the black-owned companies I had assisted during my time as the head [of department supply chain management], including Ms Sibongile Sambo who went to the inquiry to vent about how I had helped her, none of them ever claimed I expected any payment for helping them. Why then would I expect any payment from Mr Ndzeku for helping with supplier development, let alone a payment for tenders he never got from me.”
Former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi’s former PA, Gina Pieters, took the stand at the state capture inquiry on September 2 2020. She laid out how Bosasa executives made sure that flowers, hampers and other “surprises” would be sent to then minister of environmental affairs Nomvula Mokonyane and her PA, Sandy Thomas.