Denel denies contravening policy to grant Mahumapelo’s son a bursary

State-owned aerospace and defence company Denel has come under fire for awarding a R1-million bursary to North West premier Supra Mahumapelo’s son in an alleged contravention of Denel’s policy.

According to a report by eNCA, 20-year-old Supra Oarabile Mahumapelo allegedly received a bursary to go to an aviation school from Denel CEO Zwelakhe Ntshepe, flouting the company’s bursary policy.

Denel has denied in a statement the bursary was awarded improperly saying “these allegations are false” and the “bursary awarded was made to three students based on the same criteria and/or considerations” and that only one bursary – the one in question – “has attracted the interest of the media”.

The statement further asserted that “the award was made in compliance with Denel’s relevant policy after a full disclosure and presentation to the board of directors of Denel which was noted without any objection”.

Trade union Solidarity said the bursaries at Denel are normally for IT, engineering, finances, and business management programmes according to a report by News24

Solidarity’s deputy secretary general for defence and aviation, Deon Reyneke, said the awarding of this bursary is “just more proof of the high level corruption that is prevailing in so many state-owned enterprises in South Africa where cadres are using such enterprises as their personal piggy bank”.

On Monday, eNCA also reported that the Democratic Alliance (DA) said it would bring fraud and corruption charges against Supra Mahumapelo and Ntshepe.

In the article, DA MP and shadow minister of public enterprises Natasha Mazzone said if the reports were true, Mahumapelo and Ntshepe would have violated sections 50 and 51 of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).

The PFMA dictates that individuals in positions of authority are not permitted to use their positions for personal gain and are obligated to prevent expenses that do not comply with the policies of a state owned entity.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has allegedly issued an order to the newly appointed interim Denel board to launch an internal investigation into the bursary matter.

Although Mazzone welcomed Gordhan’s directive, she said: “An internal probe is not enough. There must be a criminal investigation into this possible abuse of public money.

“The reality is that these monies could have benefited underprivileged students who dream of obtaining tertiary qualifications.” 

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