/ 5 January 2022

Zondo: Myeni ally either dishonest or clueless, but must be prosecuted

Ex Board Member Yakhe Kwinana Continues To Testify Before The Commission In South Africa
Former SAA Technical board chair and SAA board member Yakhe Kwinana resumes her testimony at the Zondo Commission on November 03, 2020 in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is reported that the Commission heard more Aviation related testimony. (Photo by Papi Morake/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

Former SAA board member Yakhe Kwinana — who, alongside then board chairperson Dudu Myeni, oversaw the national carrier’s steady decline — should be prosecuted for corruption.

This is according to the first report from the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture, which was handed over to President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday and released to the public later that night. 

The report also recommended Kwinana be investigated by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants.

“The commission believes that the answers she gave to certain questions during her evidence revealed either that she has no clue about some of the basic obligations that she should know as a chartered accountant or she knew those obligations but dishonestly pretended that she did not know them because it was convenient for her to do so.”

Kwinana’s tenure, the report notes, marked a period of “poor quality and ineffectiveness” at SAA and South African Airways Technical (SAAT). 

Kwinana, who was the chairperson of SAAT, was closely aligned to Myeni. The commission has recommended that Myeni be prosecuted by the National Prosecuting Authority.

The pair “caused sustained damage to our national airline”, the report states. “They bullied officials within SAA who tried to resist their unlawful conduct. They created a climate so intolerable for many personnel that they left the airline or were forced out only to be replaced by more pliant employees.”

The report adds that the management style and approach of both Myeni and Kwinana “enabled acts of fraud and corruption to engulf the entities”. 

“They became companies in which decision-making was driven by the benefits that would accrue to those in charge as opposed to what was in the companies’ best interests.”

The possible corruption charge against Kwinana stems from evidence that she personally received payments from aviation company JM Aviation, which worked with Swissport SA for five years from April 2016 to provide ground and aviation services to SAAT for R1-billion.

The circumstances of the Swissport transaction, the commission found, were irregular and unlawful. 

In addition, the report notes, there was a strange black economic empowerment provision included in this contract that ended up benefitting JM Aviation to the tune of R6-million. Shortly after that R6-million came into JM Aviation’s bank account, and was used to benefit Kwinana personally to the amount of R4.3-million, according to the report.

In August 2020, JM Aviation director Vuyisile Ndzeku told the commission that in 2016 he decided to invest some of the money he made at the aviation company in foreign-exchange trading through Zanospark — Kwinana’s company. Ndzeku claimed he did not know the money was going to Kwinana.

Records obtained by the commission show that between July and September 2016, Zanospark received repeated payments from JM Aviation directly or from Ndzeku’s wife. During that period nothing else of any note was happening in the Zanospark bank account, evidence leader advocate Kate Hofmeyr told the commission in August 2020.

According to the report, Zanospark was only created in February 2016 and had an opening balance of R502. Once Kwinana had left SAA, further amounts were paid to her directly from JM Aviation.

The report states that Kwinana failed to give any plausible explanation for why, as the chairperson of SAAT and a board member of SAA, it was lawful and appropriate for her to have received payments from an entity that was a supplier to SAAT. 

“The payments were, therefore, probably corrupt payments because they were made in exchange for decisions, in which Ms Kwinana was involved, that benefitted the entity that made the payments.”

Judicial Commission of Inquiry Into State Capture Report Part 1 by Mail and Guardian on Scribd