SAA sacks suspended chief executive Ngqula
The board of South African Airways (SAA) has fired suspended chief executive Khaya Ngqula, it said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Jakes Gerwel, chairperson of the board of SAA, has today announced that by agreement Dr Khaya Ngqula’s employment with SAA has terminated,” the statement said.
It was agreed between the parties that the terms of the settlement would remain confidential but any payments would be reflected in the annual report in accordance with normal disclosure obligations, the statement said.
Chris Smyth would continue to act as chief executive of SAA while a search was undertaken for a permanent chief executive of the airline, SAA’s board said.
Last month the Sunday Times published reports that Servair, a consortium co-owned by Vusi Sithole, a business partner of Ngqula and his wife, Mbali Gasi, was the preferred bidder to supply about 180 000 weekly in-flight meals on SAA’s domestic routes.
The paper said the government was investigating Ngqula and the airline for “serious allegations” following the airline’s preference of French company Servair as their catering company.
SAA spokesperson Robyn Chalmers told Sapa at the time that the R3,5-billion SAA catering deal had not been finalised.
“In terms of the Airchefs tender, the Servair consortium has been recommended as preferred bidder following a competitive bidding process. It is important to note that the contract has not been finalised,” she said.
The Sunday Times reported that Sithole denied that his association with Gasa had landed his consortium the contract.
“The tendering process was open and it has taken us and our French partners two years to secure this deal,” he told the paper.
The Sunday Times reported that Sithole sponsored the inaugural Africa Open Golf Challenge, the rights to which belong to Ngqula’s wife, to the tune of R1,2-million. Gasa is also a director of one of Sithole’s companies, Netlife Golf Consortium.
Asked if Ngqula had declared his interests to SAA and if the company was made aware of Gasa’s involvement with Servair bosses, Chalmers said: “Because of South Africa’s relatively small business environment, and the fact that there may on occasion be indirect links between some businesspeople, it is critical to ensure that tender processes are competitive and vigorous, and that business interests are declared.”—Sapa.