Former board member of South African Airways (SAA) Yakhe Kwinana has denied knowledge of a 2016 Swissport Ground-handling contract that she approved on behalf of South African Airways Technical (SAAT).
Testifying before the Zondo commission into state capture on Monday Kwinana, who was chairperson of SAAT and is a chartered account by profession, said she did not know that by signing the terms and conditions of the contract, she was signing the whole contract.
She told the commission that she was not aware of a March 2016 contract that was awarded to Swissport without a tender process for a period of five years until March 31 2021, because her understanding was that it was just the terms and conditions of the contract entered into.
“This is the approval of the terms and condition and note the contract duration. Maybe I would say ... that is not a contract because the contract was entered into in 2012,” said Kwinana.
She was asked by inquiry chairperson Judge Raymond Zondo how she could have approved the terms and conditions of a contract that she was not aware of.
“Ms Kwinana, you can’t know the terms and conditions of a contract and not know the contract. A contract consists of terms and conditions. If you know the terms and conditions you know the contract,” said Zondo.
A key part of the 2016 agreement was that Swissport would purchase ground power units at a price of R9 million per unit as part of the ground-handling services contract.
A ground power unit is needed to maintain power supply in an aircraft.
The commission also heard that Kwinana was at a meeting with Swissport in February to offer “support” to the company on BEE matters and that she asked Swissport to partner with a BEE partner for a 30% stake of the contract.
The board resolved that Swissport SA would acquire all ground power unit equipment that had been purchased by SAAT and Swissport SA so it could enter into a contract with a BEE company that had representation of black women, youth, military veterans and disabled people.
According the testimony of SAAT acting head of department for supply chain management, Schalk Hendrik Human, the invoice for the ground power units amounted to R248 000 per unit and the total was R3.4 million.
He told the commission that the units were sold for next to nothing.
“Chairperson if I may, SAAT bought these units for R9.1 million. Shortly thereafter it sells these very units for R3 392 000 to JM Aviation. It is actually worth, according to our financial records, R7 968 000. This transaction is demonstrating that we have sold for next to nothing a unit that was more or less worth double,” said Human when he testified.