NPA should charge Dudu Myeni for fraud and corruption: Zondo report

Myeni's leadership led to the ultimate collapse of governance at the national carrier, giving birth to widespread corruption and looting, report states

04 January 2022 - 21:25
Former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni should be pursued by the NPA for the fraud and corruption she might have committed while at the national carrier, the Zondo commission report has recommended. File photo.
Former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni should be pursued by the NPA for the fraud and corruption she might have committed while at the national carrier, the Zondo commission report has recommended. File photo.
Image: Veli Nhlapho

Controversial former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni’s invocation of her privilege not to answer questions before the state capture inquiry, citing self-incrimination, could not save her from damning findings against her.

This after the first part of the Zondo commission's report, released on Tuesday evening, laid the blame for the carrier's demise squarely at the door of Myeni and her ally Yakhe Kwinana, who chaired SAA Technical during Myeni’s tenure.

Myeni and Kwinana are mentioned in the report more than any other persons — a combined 886 times, with Myeni copping 480 of those mentions.

The inquiry found that the duo, in their respective powerful positions, as well as co-board members of the parent company, ruled with an iron fist and crushed anyone who stood in their way and that of the business interests they represented.

This, the report goes on to say, led to the ultimate collapse of governance at the national carrier, giving birth to widespread corruption and looting.

The commission’s investigations found, the report reveals, that all board members and members of management at SAA and SAAT who attempted to stop Myeni and Kwinana from wreaking havoc were dealt with harshly.

According to the report, Myeni’s initial appointment as SAA board chairperson was for nefarious reasons, as she had been a dismal performer as an ordinary board member who barely showed up for meetings.

To make matters worse, her tenure as board chair was extended despite her known misdemeanours and ruthlessness against dissent.

“The management style and approach of both Ms Myeni and Ms Kwinana enabled acts of fraud and corruption to engulf the entities [SAA and SAAT],” reads Zondo’s report.

According to the report, SAA’s decline can be located in the last quarter of 2012, following the resignation of eight board members out of frustration with then minister of public enterprises, Malusi Gigaba.

Of what were 12 board members, only three remained, including Myeni and Kwinana, who would play the two most central roles in the years to come as chairpersons for the parent company as well as its technical wing.

The commission found that Myeni was so bad that she failed at the very basic principle of upholding the oath of office she took on December 7 2012, when she ascended to the position of SAA chairperson.

It continues that Myeni ruled with total control and was not accountable to anyone, including her fellow board members, and bunked meetings whenever she was expected to explain the dubious decisions she took behind the backs of the rest of the board.

Among Myeni’s fraudulent gymnastics, the reports noted, was her misrepresentations to the minister of public enterprises in 2013 on the issues of the Pembroke Capital transaction.

In this matter, the inquiry found, Myeni had sent at least two letters to the minister purporting to communicate board resolutions when they were, in fact, her decisions alone. As a result, SAA suffered financial losses to the tune of R800m.

“It was put to Ms Myeni during her evidence that she had knowingly misrepresented to the minister of public enterprises in 2013 that the board of SAA had resolved to change the Pembroke transaction in circumstances where she knew that they had not done so and that the misrepresentation cost SAA in the order of R800m.

“It is likely that her conduct constitutes the crime of fraud. The commission recommends that the NPA considers, subject to such further investigation as may be considered necessary, whether Ms Myeni should be prosecuted for fraud,” the report reads.

The report also comes down hard on Myeni’s conduct during her appearances at the oral hearings of the commission, where she mostly chose not to answer, saying it was her privilege against self-incrimination.

According to the report, that invocation on its own was an abuse of process and suggested that Myeni was determined to do anything to evade accountability.

She did little to endear herself to the inquiry when she revealed the real name of a witness who had been masked as Mr X, who had blown the lid on Myeni’s money movement shenanigans between herself, her son Thalente and the Jacob Zuma Foundation that she chaired, among others.

“The evidence of Mr X also merits further detailed investigation and possible charges of corruption being laid against all the individuals involved in the scheme to securing millions of rands for the personal benefit of Ms Myeni and the Jacob Zuma Foundation.”

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