Former South African Airways board chairperson Dudu Myeni told the Pretoria High Court on Friday that she had been unable to attend proceedings since the matter commenced in 2017 because she did not have the means to do so, as she is unemployed.
It would also be unfair on her husband and children to use funds to travel to Johannesburg for an SAA court case that should not have anything to do with her, she added.
Myeni made her second appearance at the court on Friday, testifying in her defence in a delinquency case brought by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse and the SAA Pilots Association.
"It is a fact that I am not employed. It is also a fact that I have very limited living means, therefore, that is why I ensured that I brought the husband issue, I brought the children issue, because that is how I survive for now," said the former chair.
"I cannot and could not ask my family to subsidise a case that has nothing to do with Dudu Myeni, a case that belongs to the South African Airways.
"I also had an obligation to my family to say that I cannot take your money to Gauteng for five weeks because I am insured," the court heard.
Not paid for legal fees
OUTA's Advocate Carol Steinberg, who cross-examined Myeni, argued that Myeni's claim that she did not have the means to attend the court case was baseless, as her position as director of multiple boards in recent years earned her over R7 million.
Myeni, for her part, said her earnings were not intended to cover legal issues.
"As a director of SAA, I have never been told by anyone, including the shareholder and the Cabinet, that getting into a state-owned enterprise means you will pay for any expense if you get into a situation like OUTA taking me to court alone for decision that we [took] as a council and not decisions I [took] alone as Dudu Myeni," she said.
Myeni also told the court that she was being targeted as an individual in a case that involved a board of decision makers, and that it was unfair that her legal fees were not being paid by company insurance, as was the case with other board members.
The court heard that there is a directors and officers liability insurance that Myeni has been waiting for to cover her legal fees, but has not been paying since she changed her legal representative.
'Look at her, she doesn't have money'
"It’s an excuse to say why am I not being covered by the same insurance that covered all the directors of the board, even those who have left the organisation. They are still covered by the same insurance that ought to have covered me.
"This, then, makes me think that it’s the same tactic that has been at play through and through to ensure that I am in a disadvantaged space and I’m not able to defend myself… this is part of the humiliation to say 'look at her, she doesn’t have money'," Myeni said.
Approached directly by Fin24, Myeni declined an interview, but reiterated what she told the court: that she could not "subsidise" SAA.
The case continues.