​Off with Head: SAA gets new CFO

Embattled national carrier South African Airways (SAA) has appointed Deon Fredericks as its new interim chief financial officer (CFO) following the lapsing of Robert Head’s contract at the end of September.

Frederick’s appointment, on secondment from telecommunications company Telkom, will be effective October 15, according to a statement issued by the airline on Thursday. “We welcome the appointment of Mr. Fredericks to ensure that SAA’s strategic objective of transforming the business into a financially sustainable aviation group is achieved,” SAA chairperson JB Magwaza said.

READ MORE: Costly Head winds pummel SAA

“We would like to thank Bob for his contribution during a difficult time for the airline and wish him well in his future endeavours,” Magwaza added.

Fredericks is currently Telkom’s chief investment officer, and was previously CFO from September 2014 to July 2018.

“A Chartered Accountant, CA (SA), a CIMA-qualified Chartered Global Management Accountant with an honours degree in Accounting and Business Management, Mr. Fredericks has over 30 years’ experience working in blue-chip organisations,” the statement reads.

The company will, in the ensuing 12-month period, initiate and finalise the recruitment process for the appointment of its permanent CFO.

The Mail & Guardian previously reported Head’s appointment, in April following the suspension of former CFO Phumeza Nhantsi, was shrouded in controversy as one board member Thandeka Mgoduso questioned it saying it was not what the board had resolved.

His package — at a reported R900 000 a month — eclipsed that of chief executives and finance heads at Eskom and Transnet earned in the same period during the past financial year. Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene asked the airline for an explanation of the package.

READ MORE: Broke SAA goes on spending spree

The airline is one of 11 government department and state-owned entities that did not meet parliament’s deadline for the submission of annual financial statements for the year ending in March 31 2018. Missing the deadline, which is six months after the end of the financial year, is normally an indicator of going concern issues.

In the financial year that ended in 2017, the airline recorded its sixth straight loss.

Sabelo Skiti

Sabelo Skiti is an investigative journalist.


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