The State Capture Commission in Johannesburg has heard that Gupta-linked Jet airways official was already at the SAA offices in possession of agreement documents regarding the Johannesburg-Mumbai route, even before a meeting with the SAA board had taken place.
Former CEO of SAA Sizakele Mzimela says on the 10th of January 2011, they had an unusual meeting with then Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba, other officials from the department and representatives from Jet Airways.
She says they waited for more than two hours for Jet Airways officials to arrive.
Mzimela told Justice Zondo she was not made aware that external people were to join the meeting.
“We were waiting for the meeting to start and then I get a call from the office and she tells me that there is a gentleman whose supposedly in possession of an agreement and is demanding for this agreement to be signed. And this agreement pertains to SAA agreeing to terminate their operations on the Mumbai route; and this surprised me because I was a bit confused about what she was talking about.”
Mzimela has also explained to the Commission how she found a meeting with president of Jet Airways, Naresh Goyal, strange and disturbing.
She says Minister Malusi Gigaba sat in silence while the Indian businessman demanded access to SAA’s Mumbai-Johannesburg route.
“So the Jet Airways representatives arrive. The meeting starts and Mr Goyal commences the meeting and speaks about his unhappiness about the delay and, in his view, everyone is wasting time. SAA should already have closed off this route because his airline is better placed to be serving … I then interject and ask the question and say I’m not aware of any decision that had been made,” Mzimela explains.
Mzimela says she was surprised and disappointed that Gigaba and his deputy allowed Goyal to rant and make demands without giving her support. She says the meeting concluded with Gigaba saying SAA and the Gupta-linked Jet Airways should meet and work through a solution to build a working partnership.
Mzimela says a follow-up meeting was held, but nothing came up of it and no agreement was reached.