Payments moved around different accounts

Deny, if in doubt, deny some more : Kwinana twists, turns and denies everything

Mawande AmaShabalala Political journalist
Former SAA Technical board chair and SAA board member Yakhe Kwinana resumed her testimony at the Zondo Commission on November 03, 2020 in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is reported that the Commission heard more Aviation related testimony. (Photo by Gallo Images/Papi Morake)
Former SAA Technical board chair and SAA board member Yakhe Kwinana resumed her testimony at the Zondo Commission on November 03, 2020 in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is reported that the Commission heard more Aviation related testimony. (Photo by Gallo Images/Papi Morake)
Image: Gallo Images

Businesswoman Ndileka Nobaxa scored a lucrative contract from SAA Technical, and then paid R800,000 into the account of Zano Spark, a Forex Trading company. So far, no foul.

But it turned out that Zano Spark is owned by Yakhe Kwinana, who was the chair of SAA Technical's board at the time the contract was given to Nobaxa, and when the nearly R1m was paid to the Forex firm.

The revelation was made at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture yesterday.

But Kwinana – who yesterday frustrated deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo during her testimony – said the money was not for her benefit. Instead, she claimed, it was a settlement for a loan that was extended to Nobaxa by attorney Mbuleli Kolisi, who passed away in July.

According to Kwinana, Nobaxa was in financial difficulties and was unable to meet her obligations to supply SAA Technical.

Kwinana said Nobaxa approached her for a loan, but she wasn't able to help – so she directed her to Kolisi, who made a R700,000 offer.

"Ndileka Nobaxa told me she got a RFQ [request for quotation] from SAA Technical and then she was awarded this RFQ but she did not have money to finance this RFQ," said Kwinana.

"She came to me to borrow the money. She wanted R700,000 because there was an urgent supply. I did not have the money but I said there is a potential investor [Kolisi] who indicated to me they are interested in Forex Trading [and] she must speak to him.

"Mr Kolisi called me [asking if] I know this person [and] can I trust her because she seems desperate. I said to Mr Kolisi ... please assist, I trust her, we go to the same church, therefore she is not going to run away. So Mr Kolisi gave her the R700,000.

"When the money was due for payment then Mr Kolisi said you need to pay that money for (the Forex Trading) investment," she said.

Pressed why Nobaxa paid an additional R119,000 if the loan was for R700,000, Kwinana said this was for interest.

"This is new to me. We can investigate further and Ms Kwinana can come back at some point," said evidence leader Adv Kate Hofmeyr.

Kwinana was also grilled about payments made to the her Forex company by controversial businessman Vuyo Ndzeku, who also did business with SAA Technical.

Ndzeku and his wife made payments to the tune of R4.3m to Zano Spark during July 2016 – a few months after Swissport, which scored a lucrative contract from SAA, paid R2.5m to Ndzeku.

The monies paid by Ndzeku and his wife to Kwinana's company, the commission heard yesterday, were moved around different accounts, including Kwinana's personal account.

But she insisted that there was nothing untoward with the payments by the Ndzekus. But she appeared to contradict herself, having first testified that they wanted to invest if Forex Trading before changing and saying that they had instructed her to invest the money in whatever she deemed fit.

Kwinana will be back at the commission to conclude her evidence on Saturday, while today former SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni will assume the hot seat.

Lawson Naidoo, executive secretary at the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, said Kwinana’s evidence showed the culture of impunity that prevailed at SAA during her tenure.

“People thought that they could do whatever they liked and get away with it. People knew that they would never be held to account for their decisions. They had political protection at the highest level. They could do as a please," he said.

“All of the money that we’ve had to put into SAA over the past several years is as a result of this level of stewardship of the company. These institutions were undermined to levels that not only resulted in money being stolen from the fiscus but necessitated additional money being put in, in order to keep companies afloat and protect jobs." - additional reporting by Penwell Dlamini

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