Former head of procurement at South African Airways (SAA) technical, Nontsasa Memela has defended her reason for communicating with JM Aviation when the bidding process was still on-going. Memela is wrapping up her testimony at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture on Monday.
The former Procurement Head is alleged to have provided JM Aviation, a local BEE company with bid documents and assisted them in getting a R1.2 billion contract with SAA technical.
Memela has denied all allegations labelled against her including bribery and wrongdoing in which she had been implicated by two witnesses last week.
She told Justice Zondo she did not see a conflict of interest when a bidding company paid R2.5 million towards the purchase of her property in Bedfordview. She has also denied she supplied bid documents to JM aviation so they could secure contract with SAA technical.
Memela says she was not aware there was a prohibition clause which excluded her from communicating with the bidder while the bidding process was open.
“So the answer is that you were not aware of this prohibition, your understanding is that there was nothing wrong with the communications with the bidder. My understanding is that there was nothing wrong cause I don’t seat in the evaluation committee and the only people that are allowed not to talk to the bidders because they have all the information are the people in the CFST the bid evaluation committee chair,” says Memela.
JM Aviation director Vuyo Ndzeku purchased land from Memela’s mother for R2.5 million, but the money was transferred to pay for a house in Bedfordview for Memela worth R3.8 million.
JM Aviation and its American-based partner AAR Corporation secured a R1.2-billion contract with SAAT to supply aircraft components in 2016. Memela said she did not see any conflict of interest when she sat in the committee that approved AAR and JM Aviation’s tender application despite having a cosy relationship with JM Aviation
“From where I was seating in my capacity of HOD there was no conflict of interest because I did not seat in the evaluation team or the people that were making decision to say I’m awarding this tender to you. It is my understanding chair for it is not taking a decision to award that.”
Memela explained to Justice Zondo that the South African Airways Technical division did not have a single black business supplier in 2013. She says she tried to transform SAAT data base but this got her into trouble. She told the commission SAAT did not have any BEE supplier on their data system and instead were using international and white owned local companies.
“When I took over procurement position there were no black owned companies the new that came after the workshops that we had they did not have knowledge in the aviation sector and all those sorts of things then I came up with a list of suppliers and I remember the first one was about eleven. out of three thousand on the data base and Ms Sambo was one of those suppliers that I opened doors for at SAT . It was not an easy journey.”
The former procurement Head also defended her reason for communicating with JM Aviation when the biding process was still on- going . She is alleged to have provided JM aviation-with bid documents and assisted them so they could score a R1.2 billion contract with SA technical to supply aircraft components, Memela says she was not aware there was a prohibition clause excluding her from communicating with the bidder while the bidding process was open
“So the answer is that you were not aware of this prohibition, your understanding is that there was nothing wrong with the communications with the bidder .. My understanding is that there was nothing wrong because I don’t seat in the evaluation committee and the only people that are allowed not to talk to the bidders, because they have all the information there are the people in the CFST the bid evaluation committee chair.”
The irregular disposal of ground power units (GPU) owned by the South African Airways Technical (SAAT) in 2016 was also questioned by the commission. During the same year 12 GPU’s were sold for less than their market value. Mamela denied that she had any role in the selling of the units. The commission will continue with Memela’s testimony. -Additional reporting by Amina Accram