/ 15 June 2024

Disgraced former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni dies

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Former SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni. (Deon Raath/Rapport/Gallo Images)

Dudu Myeni, the controversial former South African Airways chairperson and close friend of former president Jacob Zuma, has died, Zuma’s eponymous foundation said in a short statement on Saturday.

Myeni died on Friday night, according to the foundation.

“The family is still dealing with these sad developments and will not be entertaining any media enquiries. The foundation is requesting the media to respect the family position,” it said.

Once one of the most powerful executives in the country because of her proximity to the former president and her position at the national carrier and on the boards of other State-Owned-Entities, Myeni was consistently enveloped in allegations of intimidation, fraud, money laundering and corruption. SAA received numerous bailouts under her tenure.

In September last year, she was arrested by the Hawks, along with Sondolo IT director Trevor Mathenjwa, in connection with R300 000 in corrupt and fraudulent dealings relating to then preferred government service provider, Bosasa, for security upgrades to her Richards Bay home.

She was also accused of “benefiting from hotel accommodation and travel expenses for her and persons close to her, from Bosasa, facilitated by Blake Travels, between May 2014 and March 2015 for over R107 000,” according to the Investigating Directorate. She was out on R10 000 bail, along with Mathenjwa, with the matter set to resume in November this year.

The allegations were first laid out in detail during the Zondo Commission inquiry into state capture.

In 2020, Myeni was declared a delinquent director by the high court in Pretoria relating to the way she led SAA’s board. The matter was brought by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) and South African Pilots Association. The declaration meant Myeni was no longer deemed “fit and proper” to hold directorship of any entity.

In her judgment on the matter, Judge Ronel Tolmay said Myeni had been dishonest in her dealings at the national carrier and with the court. Myeni was “reckless” and “grossly negligent”, said Tolmay, who also laid into Myeni for saying she was unable to attend a court sitting because she had no money for travel. She was sitting on several boards at the time and receiving stipends.