Home South Africa News SAAT former head of procurement denies bribery allegation

SAAT former head of procurement denies bribery allegation

Nontsasa Memela

A key witness in the Zondo commission‘s investigation of corruption at South African Airways Technical (SAAT) has denied acting improperly in a tender bid award issued by SAAT in 2016.

Nontsasa Memela, SAAT’s former head of procurement, took the stand at the commission on Friday. Memela’s name had been mentioned a number of times by witnesses during this week’s proceedings. Sibongile Sambo, a disgruntled director at SRS Aviation, a company that had hoped to do business with SAAT, accused Memela of having acted improperly in the awarding of a components tender.

SAAT had in 2015 advertised for various aviation companies to apply to supply components to SAAT. SAAT falls under South African Airways and deals with the maintenance of the airline’s aircraft. The tender for the components was advertised and re-advertised numerous times over a three year period. In 2016 the tender to supply components was then awarded to a US-based company AAR Corporation in partnership with a local company, JM Aviation. It was worth over R1 billion.

Raymond Zondo

Earlier this week, the commission heard testimony from Schalk Human, SAAT’s acting head for supply chain, that AAR was not the prefered bidder recommended by the evaluating committee. In investigations, it was brought to light that Memela had purchased a property in Bedfordview for R3.8m.

Of the total amount owed,R2.5m was paid by JM Aviation towards Memela’s property. When asked about the transfers, Memela explained that there was nothing untoward about the payment. She claimed that JM Aviation director Vuyo Ndzeku had in fact purchased land from her mother and it was decided that instead of the funds being paid to her mother they would go towards her Bedfordview property purchase.

“I started looking for a property here in Joburg. The deposit was needed. Some came from my husband’s pension fund and some from my mother’s land purchase. The deal was between Mr Ndzeku and my mother. My mother sold the two properties to Mr Ndzeku.

“Open Water never gave me an opportunity to state my side of the story about the purchase of my property,” Memela said. The commission had also heard this week that Memela’s salary had been increased around the same time that she had purchased the Bedfordview property. She denied that there was anything irregular or improper about her salary increase and questioned why it was being linked to her property purchase.

Memela also told the commission that she did not see any conflict of interest when she sat in the committee that approved AAR and JMR Aviation’s tender application. It is not like they were paying from their pockets. I did not see any conflict of interest. In my capacity there was no conflict,” she said. Memela is expected to return to the commission on Monday to wrap-up her evidence.

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Source: IOL