Former South African Airways (SAA) board chairperson Dudu Myeni has accused parliament’s public enterprises committee investigating allegations of state capture at state-owned enterprises of treating her like a criminal by insisting she should appear before the committee despite being booked off sick by her doctor.
Myeni has failed to appear before the inquiry twice already to address claims made by former Eskom board chairperson, Zola Tsotsi, that she along with former president Jacob Zuma gave him instructions to suspend executives at the power utility.
In her letter signed March 10, the former SAA chairperson said she had never refused to come to parliament to account, but she could not fly or travel long distances because of her illness, which “will be medically confirmed”.
Myeni said she made a written statement to the inquiry on Monday to answer to Tsotsi’s allegations against her, but she felt her rights “as a sick person” were being violated.
“I appear to be treated like a criminal. I presume that my rights as a sick person, who is entitled to human dignity and equality of all people in my situation, shall be respected, and I would not feel prejudiced and pressurised to appear before the committee prematurely,” she said.
Myeni has not only accused the inquiry of being insensitive to her illness, but also threatened to take legal action should she not be afforded “an opportunity to recover in dignity”.
“I am conscious of the fact that the right to human dignity is also extended to me as a person who is not well, and therefore, I had expected, Parliament and its portfolio committee, as a constitutional centre of observance, protection and upholding the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution, to show me compassion by extending me the right to human dignity in this difficult time of being sick.
“Is this the way in which all the citizens of South Africa will be treated, or it is the way which all the citizens of South Africa will be treated, or it is only done to me? Am I now a suspect or criminal?”
Myeni further added she was not shocked that her rights were being infringed upon by the inquiry, as she has had “no rights for all my life”.
“I hereby, nerveless, make an unequivocal undertaking to inform your esteemed office as soon as possible about my fitness and readiness to appear before your committee, and that is dependent upon my recovery and confirmation by my doctors on my medical fitness and capacity to perform public appearance. Should I be compelled to appear regardless of this letter, I reserve my right at law to see an appropriate remedy,” she said.
Meanwhile, the DA on Monday accused Myeni and the Gupta brothers, Ajay, Atul and Rajesh, of showing an unacceptable disregard for parliament and the constitution for failing to appear before the inquiry. The Guptas have indicated through their lawyers that they are currently out of the country.
DA MP Natasha Mazzone said the party would request that Myeni and the Guptas be summoned to appear in parliament, which would see them being fined or jailed up to 12 months should they ignore the summons.