#StateCaptureInquiry: Gigaba's push for Jet Airways and SAA to collaborate was 'peculiar' – Carolus

2018-11-29 16:32
Cheryl Carolus at the 101 stalwarts press conference at St George’s Anglican Church. (Sifiso Jimta)

Cheryl Carolus at the 101 stalwarts press conference at St George’s Anglican Church. (Sifiso Jimta)

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Former SAA chairperson Cheryl Carolus has described how the relationship between then minister of public enterprises Malusi Gigaba and the SAA board had deteriorated, adding that Gigaba was quite persistent to assist Jet Airways and SAA "find one another". 

Carolus was testifying at the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture on Thursday.

During her testimony, Carolus said former minister Gigaba would in various public forums make utterances which were quite "lethal and unfair" and he would also question the board's competence.

"We felt quite aggrieved and he was starting to question the integrity of the group (SAA board)," she said.

Carolus also told inquiry chair Justice Raymond Zondo about her arrival at SAA, saying there were governance failures and violations of the Public Finance Management Act as well as procurement and tender processes.

"[There was] very poor staff morale...bad tone set by management [and] no team spirit," she said.

Mumbai route was 'critical'

Carolus also touched on the South Africa to Mumbai route matter mentioned during Barbara Hogan's submission.

Hogan, who was public enterprises minister at the time, previously testified before the Zondo commission that she accompanied then president Jacob Zuma on a state visit to India in June 2010 where she received information that SAA would be terminating its Johannesburg to Mumbai route.

Hogan contacted Carolus, who was SAA chairperson at the time, via text to seek confirmation.

ALSO READ: 'I knew I was going to be dismissed' – Hogan at state capture inquiry

Carolus in response told Hogan that SAA would not be terminating that route. Hogan further stated that Carolus confirmed to her that Jet Airways had been lobbying SAA unsuccessfully to let go of the profitable Mumbai route.

Carolus told the Zondo commission: "The Mumbai route was quite critical, and it is true we were making losses...from Mumbai to Johannesburg," she said.

She said weeks after Gigaba's appointment he requested a meeting to discuss the Mumbai route. Carolus testified that Gigaba met with the board although she was not part of the meeting.

'Peculiar' three-hour wait

She said the former minister said he was waiting for more people to join the meeting, however, they waited for the officials for three hours.

"Do you know why the two gentlemen kept everybody waiting for three hours? What was so special about these people?" Zondo asked Carolus. 

"I do not know chairperson, it was just so peculiar that a whole minister...[would] sit there for three hours," Carolus said in response. 


She said the chairperson of Jet Airways was present at the meeting and led the discussions while Gigaba said nothing.

She said Jet Airways proposed that the Mumbai route should be dropped, but the board said it was happy to discuss "collaborating" and not "colluding". 

She said the board made it clear that it was not willing to give up the route.

Board's refusal 'a waste of money'

She also told Zondo about another meeting Gigaba requested with the board. Carolus said she was not part of the second meeting, however, Jet Airways was again represented.

During the meeting, Gigaba's legal adviser Siyabonga Mahlangu told then CEO Siza Mzimela that board's refusal to close the Mumbai route was wasting money that could be used to "build RDP houses".  

She said Gigaba invited officials to the meeting and the Jet Airways chairperson was one of them.  

"We found it quite peculiar at the time. The minister is our shareholder, and he seemed to be quite persistent to assist Jet Airways and SAA to find one another," she said.  

"As a shareholder (minister) you not about [helping] the other side," she said. 

She said it was clear Gigaba was in discussion with Jet Airways in a way that he wasn't with the SAA board.

Read more on:    saa  |  malusi gigaba  |  cheryl carolus  |  state capture inquiry

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