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SAA Technical senior exec denies assisting bidder to score R1.2bn contract


The witness alleges that Nontsasa Memela assisted JM Aviation with bid documents so it could score the contract.

The then head of procurement at South African Airways Technical (SAAT), Nontsasa Memela, has denied assisting a local aviation company with preparing documents that would assist it to score a R1.2-billion contract at the entity.

Memela denied the allegation in a statement submitted to the commission of inquiry into state capture in response to evidence by founding member of SRS Aviation, Sibongile Rejoice Sambo.

On Tuesday, Sambo told the chairperson of the commission, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, that Memela arranged to meet with her in early 2016 and that at the meeting Memela told her that a five-year components contract at SAAT had been awarded to AAR Corporation which partnered with JM Aviation.

However, the contract was awarded in May 2016.

On Tuesday, at the start of her testimony, Sambo had told the commission that due to her medical condition, she struggles with correctly recalling the sequence of events.

Sambo’s testimony at the commission included details about how over a period of time she allegedly did the groundwork for American-based AAR Corporation to penetrate the South African market via SAAT and subsequently its African counterpart, and how she was eventually sidelined.

On Tuesday, Sambo said she did not “take the news very well” that the contract had been awarded to AAR and JM Aviation.

The commission heard that Memela told Sambo that she had been asked by former SAAT board chair Yakhe Kwinana to assist JM Aviation’s Vuyo Ndzeku with preparing the bid documents.

Sambo earlier told the commission that in 2015 she had seen Ndzeku in the company of AAR’s Cheryle Jackson.

Sambo said Memela told her that she assisted Ndzeku with a joint venture between AAR and JM Aviation.

The commission dealt with a trial of emails Sambo said Memela sent her as proof that Memela had assisted JM Aviation with the bid documents.

The emails were sent by Khosi Sokhulu to Memela and included a draft proposal for the bid and draft joint venture agreement.

However, in her responding statement, Memela said she had sent the emails to assist Sambo so she could better understand what is expected from locally based suppliers with regards to the BBBEE scorecard.

“I would find her statement as not authentic,” Sambo responded, explaining that she, in fact, had a clear understanding of the BBBEE scorecard as she had served as the deputy chair of the BBBEE charter counsel for the department of transport.

Responding to Memela’s statement that Sambo had on numerous occasions asked for her assistance, the witness said the only time she had asked for information from Memela was when she asked for information which would assist Jackson.

Sambo had earlier told the commission that the information was a spreadsheet of prices submitted by bidders in a previous tender. The spreadsheet was saved on a flash drive which was only submitted to the commission on Monday.

Evidence leader at the commission, Advocate Michael Mbikwa, told Zondo that the commission’s data forensic team confirmed that the drive was last worked on, on 3 August 2015 by a Nontsasa Memela.



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