Correction and apology: In an earlier version of this story, the introductory paragraph stated that SAA’s former legal adviser and current board member Peter Tshisevhe had allegedly seen “nothing wrong with another board member buying a holding company with the sole intention of doing business with SAA”.
This conclusion, among others, was improperly reached by the Citizen: Mr Tshisevhe has shown the Citizen that he was not in fact involved in the manner alluded to by Yakhe Kwinana in leaked emails. Mr Tshisevhe did not receive any instruction from Kwinana (or any other SAA official) and did not act in any manner that could be interpreted as being against the best interests of SAA or his client. Mr Tshisevhe’s client did not ultimately participate in the fuel deal reported on in this article.
The Citizen regrets any insinuation that Mr Tshisevhe is not an attorney of impeccable character, as well as the factual errors and any damage that it may have caused Mr Tshisevhe. We apologise unreservedly.
According to alleged SAA emails released by NGO Forensics for Justice, On September 23, 2015, Yakhe Kwinana, a board member and chairperson of SAA’s risk and audit committee, wrote to Dr Masimba Dahwa, then chief procurement officer at SAA, regarding the ‘fuel value chain’.
“As per the commitment that I made at Sharks Board [jet-fuel supplier engagement], Durban on the 18th of September 2015, that I will be buying a Holding Company which will hold shares on behalf of ‘Workstream’ Companies, I have appointed Peter Tshisevhe, of TGR attorneys, a lawyer by profession and registered with SAA database of Legal Advisors to assist to set it up,” Kwinana wrote.
On September 2, 2016, then Cabinet spokesperson Donald Liphoko, on announcing the appointment of 11 new nonexecutive directors to the board of SAA, announced Tshisevhe as follows: “Peter Tshisevhe, attorney specialising in corporate commercial; mergers and acquisitions; tax; structured finance; security exchange listings; restructuring and unbundling; corporate restructuring and general commercial practice,” the statement read.
Judging by his response in the emails, Dahwa, who was chief procurement officer at the time, did not take kindly to what he perceived as Kwinana’s flagrant violation of supply-chain management policy of the company, and the PFMA and Treasury regulations he was meant to uphold.
The email went on to indicate that Tshisevhe would contact Dahwa with his details. He was also one of the recipients on the email. Dahwa was asked to introduce Tshisevhe “to Engen, as he will sign both with SAA and Engen on behalf of the consortium”.
Thanking him for the email response, Tshisevhe wrote: “The registration of the company having required to the time available to conclude to the parties is not an urgent priority. As long as the parties agree on commercial terms, an agreement could be entered into between SAA, Engen and a representative of the company to be established,” he wrote.
In Kwinana’s email to Dahwa, she had also indicated: “It is expected that, as the tender was awarded on 26 August 2015, this agreement will be signed before 30 September 2015.”
Tshisevhe’s further advice was: “As soon as the company has been established, it could step in and take over the obligations created before it was registered. This arrangement is common in business and regulated in the Companies Act and pre-incorporation contracts.”
He told Dahwa: “What I thought we needed to channel our energy on was to negotiate and finalise high-level terms between the three parties even if they have to enter into heads of agreement.”
He concluded: “That is my little understanding of what is required to be done, and I am very open to suggestions particularly from Ursula [Fikelepi, then SAA chief legal counsel], who is a legal person.”
Tshisevhe, writing in response to The Citizen, said: “I didn’t receive any instruction from Yakhe either verbally or in writing to represent SAA or [his client] Quintessential as I had already accepted a mandate to represent Quintessential [as per an email he sent to The Citizen].”
He added that: “My client Quintessential was never appointed on the deal by SAA.
“I cannot comment about SAA internal deliberations as I wasn’t privy to those discussions as an outsider and have no control over what people stated about me. ”
Kwinana was emailed and called for comment this week, but did not respond to these, as well as calls and WhatsApp messages.
Update: She, however, later confirmed the authenticity of the emails and stood by what she had said.