SAA board to investigate airline's 'shameful past' exposed by Zondo Commission

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The interim board will attempt to recover any assets lost or monies misappropriated from SAA.
The interim board will attempt to recover any assets lost or monies misappropriated from SAA.
  • SAA's interim board intends to investigate the airline's "shameful past" as set out in the Zondo Commission's report on state capture.
  • The report found, for example, that Dudu Myeni, a close ally of former president Jacob Zuma, "sabotaged" the airline from within.
  • The interim board will also attempt to recover assets or monies lost during that period

The interim board of state-owned South African Airways (SAA) says it intends to institute internal investigations and disciplinary processes with the aim of "cleaning the company of all vestiges of its shameful past" as exposed in the Zondo Commission's report.

Furthermore, in line with its fiduciary responsibility and legal obligations under the Public Finance Management Act, the board  said on Monday that it will attempt to recover any assets lost or monies misappropriated from SAA. 

The first part of the report was released last week and includes several findings on SAA. It recommends that a number of former high-ranking SAA officials be investigated for fraud and corruption during the tenure of the airline's ex-chairperson Dudu Myeni between December 2012 and October 2017. The report found that Myeni, a close ally of former president Jacob Zuma, sabotaged the airline from within via a mixture of "negligence, incompetence and deliberate corrupt intent". Myeni denies any wrongdoing.

The report also found that former SAA board member Yakhe Kwinana appeared to have "no clue" about being a chartered accountant. SA's accountancy regulator is investigating her actions. Kwinana served on the SAA board between 2009 and 2016, including as head of its audit and risk committee. She too denies wrongdoing.

SAA exited business rescue in April 2021 and started commercial flights again in September of the same year after it stopped 15 months before in May 2020.

Due diligence of SAA's chosen strategic equity partner, the Takatso consortium, is still under way. It is anticipated that the consortium, consisting of Global Aviation, which operates low-cost airline LIFT, and African infrastructure investment company Harith, will have to invest about R3 billion in SAA over a three-year period.

SAA's current interim board consists of Professor Malesela John Lamola (chair), an Associate Professor at the University of Johannesburg's Institute for Intelligent Systems. Nick Fadugba, CEO of African Aviation Services and a fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society in the UK; Bembe Zwane, described as an aviation entrepreneur on SAA's website; Fikile Mhlontlo (interim CFO); and the interim CEO Thomas Kgokolo.

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