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By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist

Dudu Myeni ‘ran riot’ at SAA, Zondo commission hears

Former chief financial officer at SAA Phumeza Nhantsi also testified on the controversial appointment of Myeni's 'personal advisor' Masotsha Mngadi.

Under Dudu Myeni as chairperson of the SA Airways (SAA) board, the board would take crucial decisions – some of them bizarre – but expected the executive to carry out the orders without questioning, the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture heard on Tuesday.

This included the controversial appointment of her “personal advisor” Masotsha Mngadi, who was not paid a salary by the national carrier, as was expected in terms of the airline’s employment processes.

Former chief financial officer at SAA Phumeza Nhantsi told the commission that Mngadi’s involvement in high-level SAA affairs took place at a time of an aircraft swap deal, under scrutiny by the National Treasury.

Letters drafted by SAA executives on the aircraft swap deal, for the attention of the finance minister, had to be “run by” Mngadi for his input. This on instructions of Myeni, who described Mngadi as being “highly knowledgeable on SAA”.

Nhantsi said: “I did not know Mr Mngadi before and assumed he was appointed in terms of SAA processes.

“After making enquiries, I was later told that Mr Mngadi was ‘Myeni’s person’ and her personal advisor, as opposed to being appointed SAA board advisor.”

With his salary not paid by SAA, his role remained a mystery.

“That is strange. If SAA needs advisors, they must be secured in a certain manner and be paid by SAA,” remarked Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

“Yes, it was strange that this third party was involved. But at the time, I was only two weeks at SAA and not sure how things worked at the airline,” Nhantsi said.

While Mngadi wasn’t involved in the running of SAA, he gave input on letters prepared to be sent by the board to National Treasury.

On the aircraft swap deal, Nhantsi said: “My understanding was that, many years ago, SAA ordered widebody aircraft and now wanted to swap.”

Corroborating earlier evidence by former SAA head of financial risk Cynthia Stimpel, on concerns about the legality of the SAA 2015 board decision to obtain the R15 billion consolidation loan from the Free State Development Corporation, Nhlantsi said she did not support the move, which appeared to benefit “certain individuals”.

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