North West 'flouted' tender rules when awarding airport contract to SA Express
North West community safety and transport management CFO Kutlwano Phatudi told the state capture inquiry on Friday how procurement processes were flouted during the appointment of SA Express as an operator at two of its airports.
She said the lucrative 2014 contract to operate at the Mafikeng and Pilanesburg airports were not put out to tender because government officials in the province decided on the airline beforehand.
Phatudi said she attended a meeting in 2014 with heads of department (HODs) and MECs from her own department as well as the North West's department of tourism, the provincial treasury and then-premier Supra Mahumapelo's office.
The meeting was held at Sun City. There, the officials were shown a presentation for the renewal of the province's two airports.
The deal, which is riddled with allegations of corruption and procurement irregularities, was allegedly envisaged to move up to R400m out of the North West government and into SA Express. The commission believes R97m of that total amount was siphoned off to various entities through a "detailed scheme of money laundering".
"No supply chain management processes were followed. It was not advertised, it did not go out on tender. My view was that this needs to be advertised, the department needs to go out on tender," Phatudi told the commission.
"I advised the HOD that because it was the first project of its kind ... it was advisable for the department to go out on tender so that we could get the best option that could be offered by the market. That advice was not taken. The response was that the collective has recommended that a memorandum be presented to provincial executive council for approval."
Exco received a memorandum recommending SA Express be appointed at both airports and it approved the deal in December 2014.
Phatudi's testimony is continuing.