Zondo Commission: Witness remembers R2.5 million payment four years after it was made

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State Capture commission chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo quizzed  Vuyisile Ndzeku on the millions in his bank account.
State Capture commission chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo quizzed Vuyisile Ndzeku on the millions in his bank account.
Deaan Vivier, Netwerk24
  • The money trail in a deal concluded in March 2016 began with a R28 million payment made by Swissport to JM aviation, where Ndzeku was also a director.
  • Some of the money ended up with SAA's head of procurement Lester Peter and SAAT’s former head of procurement Nontsasa Memela. 
  • Evidence leader advocate Kate Hofmeyraccused Ndzeku of being a dishonest witness, saying he had changed the version of his testimony many times that day.


For four years, Vuyisile Ndzeku, director of JM Aviation, was unaware that his bank account held R2.5 million.

This was one of the many memory lapses the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture heard about on Wednesday. 

"I don’t remember" was a common response in Ndzeku’s testimony to the commission, as he gave evidence on his role in a R1-billion, five-year ground handling tender between SAA and Swissport that was concluded in March 2016.

"So you saw that there was a big balance in your statement but you didn’t ask anyone about it?" Deputy Chief Justice and the inquiry’s chairman, Raymond Zondo, quizzed Ndzeku about a R2.5 million payment in his bank account after the deal was concluded.

"Chair, I don’t remember, I did not remember asking anyone about the money," Ndzeku responded.

He later said he remembered the money, and it being paid to JM Aviation.

The money trail in the deal that was concluded in March 2016, began with a R28 million payment made by Swissport to JM Aviation, where Ndzeku was also a director. From there R2.5 million found its way into Ndzeku’s bank account, while some of the funds were traced to SAA Technical’s former head of procurement, Nontsasa Memela, namely R2.5 million used towards purchasing her R3.8 million home in Bedfordview, Johannesburg. 

Another R2.5 million found itself in SAA procurement head Lester Peter’s pocket, from Ndzeku’s lawyer. Hofmeyr told the commission that Peter used the money to buy an Aston Martin and BMW coupe.

The commission also heard that R4.3 million went to former SAA Technical chair Yakhe Kwinana, who received the money a month after she left SAAT. 

Initially Ndzeku denied that he had any part in the deal but evidence leader advocate Kate Hofmeyr said he was, in fact, the mastermind. 

"No, we were giving a service, there was not corruption, there was nothing stolen, the company did business with those people, if there was something wrong there they were supposed to say ‘stop it, something’s wrong," he said.

Ndzeku questioned why the corruption wasn’t picked up all those years ago and was being picked up now.

Hofmeyr accused Ndzeku of being a dishonest witness, saying he had changed the version of his testimony many times that day.

"If I didn’t remember something, I didn’t remember. It doesn’t mean that if you don’t remember, you are dishonest if you remember you remember if you don’t you don’t," he said.

The inquiry will continue on Thursday.

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