Johannesburg – Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on Tuesday laughed off former SA Airways board member and ex-SAA Technical (SAAT) chairperson Yakhe Kwinana’s testimony at the commission of inquiry into state capture.
Kwinana, a chartered accountant, denied discussing details of a R1.2 billion contract to supply aircraft components to SAAT with a director of a black economic empowerment arm of the successful bidder.
JM Aviation was the local partner of American company AAR Corporation, which secured the R1.2bn contract with SAAT to supply aircraft components in 2016.
Kwinana admitted that she had a number of conversations with Vuyo Ndzeku, a director of JM Aviation, while the lucrative tender was open.
SAAT supply chain management rules stated that a bidder should be disqualified for being in contact with employees and board members of an SAA subsidiary.
Evidence leader Kate Hofmeyr suggested that AAR Corporation and JM Aviation should have been eliminated, however, Kwinana maintained that she could not state with certainty that they should have been eliminated or not.
The commission has previously heard that former SAAT head of procurement Nontsasa Memela supplied JM Aviation with bid documents.
However, Kwinana stated that she really was not concerned about her conversations with Ndzeku as they were not about the tender.
“How do you know he wasn’t operational? I thought you were not talking to him about anything specific about JM Aviation,” asked Hofmeyr.
Kwinana responded: “If he was operational at JM Aviation, he would basically talk about JM Aviation.”
Justice Zondo burst out laughing and pleaded with the witness:
“Ms Kwinana, are you sure that’s the answer you’re giving?”
Kwinana’s answer was in the affirmative. ”I don’t take it (meeting Ndzeku) as irregular. In fact, we were not talking about the bid. My talking about the bid would end in the boardroom,” she explained.
Kwinana denied that AAR Corporation and JM Aviation had access to her and Memela in circumstances where no other bidder did.
”Ndzeku and I had numerous things that we were talking about. He was not involved in operations (of JM Aviation),” she insisted.
According to Kwinana, she and Ndzeku have many companies outside SAA and that he spoke to her not in his capacity as a JM Aviation director.
Kwinana also took exception to Hofmeyr asking her whether she was among the SAAT board members and management who were wined and dined by AAR Corporation while the tender was still open.
”This dining and wining and the effects on tenders I really do not see any significance in respect of that. I don’t like the term being wined and dined. It seems as if ngoku (now) I am a hungry person and I am happy now that I am being dined. No chair,” she said.
Justice Zondo was again amused by the response from Kwinana, who suggested that Hofmeyr should rather say they visited AAR Corporation.
Kwinana also could not remember demanding the agreement between SAA, AAR Corporation and JM Aviation be couriered to her and being in the meeting where the contract was signed despite evidence suggesting that she was.
Justice Zondo asked why Kwinana was involved in the couriering of contracts when that was management’s job.
Kwinana said that she had received a letter from the SAA chairperson that Treasury wanted to audit the contract.