Armscor top brass 'tampered' with report

2012-02-16 12:25

Johannesburg - The acting CEO of Armscor and a top manager illegally tampered with a technical oversight report for a multi-million rand air force upgrade contract for its training planes, which are also used by its famous Silver Falcons aerobatics wing, witnesses claim in sworn testimony.

The pair - acting CEO Sipho Mkwanazi and Mike Matibe, a general manager at the time - also persuaded another executive to sign the fiddled report which they then convinced the Armscor board to sign off on, the witnesses claim.

Not even the Amscor board is entitled to change a technical report on tenders. The technical report assesses whether the tenderer is capable of meeting the requirements of the contract.

R10m tender

The 2007 tender was for a R10m upgrade to the navigation systems for the Pilatus planes, which the air force used as training aircraft and which are also used by the Silver Falcons, the aerobatic display team of the air force.

The upgrade contract went to Switzerland-based Pilatus, the original suppliers of the plane, although more than a dozen other companies had pitched for the business.

Witnesses during arbitration proceedings in a Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) case said while critical technical criteria was changed to allow the contract to be awarded, there is no suggestion of illegal activity by the company. Pilatus evidence suggests the Armscor executives were under pressure to get a deal concluded for the air force.

The details of the Pilatus tender report and contract are now classified, insiders say.

The witnesses are four Armscor employees who testified in the constructive dismissal case brought by Dr Ben van Tonder, former general manager of the technical insurance division which oversees technical details of military tenders, to the CCMA.

Van Tonder, who has a doctorate in physics and masters degree in engineering management, resigned from Armscor in October 2007 claiming his position had become untenable due to interference - including the tampering of the report incident - by his seniors in his division, among a raft of other issues.

His case is still ongoing through the Labour Court, although he won his case at the CCMA on two separate occasions where commissioners seemingly accepted the evidence of those who described the tampering of the technical report. Their evidence also formed part of a Labour Court hearing.


The witnesses testified in the CCMA hearing how Mkwanazi (then still a general manager) and Matibe (an acting general manager) unilaterally changed the technical tender document by adding paragraphs to it.

In his testimony, Pierre Meiring, senior manager for acquisition and business planning, condemned changes, saying: “Such a step would seriously compromise Armscor’s audit ability.”

The tampering was done while Van Tonder and another staff member in his department, who wrote the report, had been on leave, the witnesses said.

The evidence suggests Mkwanazi and Matibe had received an electronic version of the report and had changed it. Afterwards they had instructed an acting manager to sign the changed document, which was then presented to the board for it to award the contract.

Former Armscor chairperson Popo Molefe said he was not aware that the tender document had been changed, and also was not aware of Van Tonder’s grievances.

Media24 Investigations, however, has a copy of the letter containing the grievances which had been sent to Molefe and to which he reacted.

One of the commissioners who considered Van Tonder’s case said that Van Tonder had been treated in an “inhumane” and “shocking” manner which was “unknown in terms of modern standards”.

Mkwanazi and Matibe did reply to repeated requests for comment.

Daphney Chuma, Armscor’s spokesperson, did not respond to email or telephone messages.

  • Michael - 2012-02-16 12:33

    WTF...... Naughty ones caught out yet again!!! Now i wonder what will happen to them? Only trouble they will get into is for being caught. Well done Ben van Tonder. Finally someone with morals and scruples

  • Mhlophe - 2012-02-16 12:39

    It's the South African way...

  • Ig - 2012-02-16 12:44

    I have a Sipho working in my garden on Saturdays, just wondering??

      lmarima - 2012-02-16 13:14

      What is Sipho in the garden had to do with this crap of corruption? Leave the poor man alone and continue helping him

      Ig - 2012-02-16 13:16

      Imarima, you dont get it do you????????

  • Andre - 2012-02-16 12:45

    Vrot like their president!

      FlowingRivers - 2012-02-16 13:26

      All those that speak ill of the President shud be put in jail !!!!!!!!!!

      Trevor - 2012-02-16 13:41

      @FlowingRivers - The President is rotten to the core....I would tell it to his face..but then I'd need to shower.

  • Linda - 2012-02-16 12:45

    BEST WORD OF THE YEAR. Ineptocracy (in-ep-toc-ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers The problems we face today are there because... The people who work for a living, are outnumbered by those who vote for a living.

  • maseratifittipaldi - 2012-02-16 12:48

    Is quality only a perception or is it more? I don't really know, but I do believe this country is short on quality. It is almost as if the ANC is at war with quality.

  • Alan - 2012-02-16 12:53

    Does Mandela also weep for SA?

      Donald - 2012-02-16 14:26


  • braamc - 2012-02-16 13:13


  • RobertKeeling - 2012-02-16 13:19

    So another previously successful operation is being run into the ground by obviously uneducated, crooked "comrades" who have no idea what their responsibilities are and how to run the place. More BBBEEEEE gone mad! Get over your problems of appointing certain races, genders or handicapped people in responsible jobs, and select the best qualified person to take responsibility. And why am I wondering how much Pilatus paid to get the contract?

      Herman - 2012-02-16 13:41

      True words, but alas, too late for SA, One Man - One Vote is the worst thing to ever have happened to SA.

  • Brian - 2012-02-16 13:45

    What has been missed here is that Popo Molofe stated that he did not know that tender documents had been changed but there is written evidence that he received a full written report on the matter. In short, he is a liar and any future utterences of his will now be suspect

  • ludlowdj - 2012-02-16 13:52

    Which is why the government can never be allowed to pass the secrecy act, and that even if they manage to push it through, patriotic South Africans will still ensure that these reports are placed in the hands of the international media. The biggest enemy the government will ever face, is its own citizens.

  • Gerhard - 2012-02-16 14:11

    Of course they tampered with the report. There is no word for integrity in Pedi!!!

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