The former head of procurement at South African Airways Technical (SAAT), Nontsasa Memela, has denied giving a bidder pricing information for a tender that was open at the time.
Memela, however, has said the pricing information was for a previous tender and that this was done to assist the said bid, which was part of her duties – supplier development black economic empower (BEE).
The founding member of SRS Aviation, Sibongile Rejoice Sambo, last week told the commission of inquiry into state capture that Memela had given her a flash drive containing a spreadsheet of prices submitted by bidders, which she, Sambo, would pass on to AAR Corporation’s Cheryle Jackson.
The commission heard that Sambo was jointly bidding with American-based company AAR, for a components supply tender at SAAT.
Sambo had asked Memela for information that would assist Jackson and that this request was acceded to with the former two meeting at a Shell garage in Alberton where Memela gave Sambo the flash drive, the commission heard last week.
“It would not be pricing coming from the bid evaluation committee [cross-functional sourcing team],” Memela said on Tuesday.
Memela told the commission that she was not certain of the authenticity of the flash drive.
The commission also dealt with WhatsApp messages which were allegedly from Memela to Sambo, and which Memela said was her first time seeing and asked her legal representative, Ms Mbanjwa, to intervene.
Mbanjwa said the same objection that they had raised over the information from the flash drive was the same with regards to the WhatsApp messages and asked to check the authenticity of the latter.
The chairperson of the commission, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, said Mbanjwa and her team would be given the opportunity to investigate the messages and challenge their validity.
In one of the messages allegedly sent by Memela to Sambo, the former mentions that even when Sambo wanted information for Jackson, Memela gave it to her.
However, Memela said this would have been publicly available information and not from the CSFT as she was not a member of this committee and so would not have pricing information on a tender that was open at the time.
Rising on another objection, Mbanjwa requested that evidence leader at the commission, Kate Hofmeyr identify the exact pricing list to determine whether the information on the flash drive corresponds with the pricing of the tender at the time.
Mbanjwa also told the commission that “very specific” documents could be shared which would show that assisting locally based black-owned suppliers was part of Memela’s duties.
Mbanjwa further took issue with Hofmeyr’s attitude, accusing her of being confrontational and hostile. However, Hofmeyr dismissed the allegation.
Zondo called for collegiality and for a smooth running of proceedings.
Memela said she did not recall meeting with Sambo at the Shell garage but she did recall meeting with her at a restaurant where she told her that the tender had been awarded to AAR and locally-based JM Aviation.
Memela said she had given Sambo pricing information from a previous tender because she had picked up that Sambo, who since 2012 had been unsuccessfully bidding for the tender along with AAR, had no knowledge of Maintenance and Repair and Operating (MRO) supplies and so hoped that the information would be of assistance to Sambo.
Memela’s testimony continues, watch live courtesy of the SABC: