Theft at SAA board's biggest worry, chairperson Magwaza tells parliament


Cape Town – The biggest cause for "consternation" and worry and concern of SAA’s board is whether there is theft at the airline, said board chair JB Magwaza.

Magwaza and other members of the SAA board including CEO Vuyani Jarana on Tuesday briefed Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) on the steps being taken to address fruitless and wasteful and irregular expenditure at the national carrier.  

The airline’s irregular expenditure came to R125.9m and fruitless and wasteful expenditure amounted to R40.4m, according to the Auditor General’s report for the company’s 2016/17 financial year. 

The root causes identified by the airline was the interest on late payments, lack of planning on aircraft returns and delays in finalising contracts.

Among the issues raised by Scopa member David Ross and chair Themba Godi was possible theft of inventory and if there was any enforcement of consequence management.

Jarana explained that the airline was migrating its data to a new system and that required a physical stock taking process. He could not say if any stock had been stolen, based on the current information collected so far.

Godi pointed out that there may be inventory which is not yet accounted for. Jarana emphasised that a completed physical count would give a sense of what stock is missing.

Before the meeting started Godi said that Parliament wants "frankness" from SAA and not "alternative facts". He probed Jarana about individuals at SAA who made decisions that led to SAA being in its indebted position.

Jarana assured that forensic reports which are before the board are being actioned already.

“The board and management are committed to do the right thing.”

Magwaza echoed these views and said that whether there is theft and the magnitude of theft is a concern.

“A month or so ago I decided to appoint a forensic group made up of board members.” The members include Akhter Hoosen Moosa, Martin Kingston and Peter Tshisevhe.

“It is a serious level of concern… We do receive anonymous SMSes to this effect. We receive anonymous emails to this effect. There is no way we can sit and do nothing. We want to get to the bottom of this thing,” he said. “The culture we are inculcating in SAA is one of zero tolerance of fraud and corruption.”

Magwaza said that the committee needs to complete its work so that the board can get a “proper handle” on the magnitude of the problem.

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