Carolus: 'Gigaba allowed Jet Airways CEO to pressurise SAA to drop Mumbai route'

Cheryl Carolus says when Jet Airways CEO Naresh Goyal got to a meeting called by Malusi Gigaba, he started to interrogate the board about the SAA route to Mumbai.

Former SAA board chair Cheryl Carolus arrives at the Zondo Commission on 29 November 2018. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Former South African Airways (SAA) board chair Cheryl Carolus has told the state capture commission that former Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba allowed people outside of government to pressurise the local airline to drop its route to Mumbai.

Carolus, who was board chair between 2009 and 2012, is testifying at the commission on Thursday.

She's told the commission about a strange meeting called by Gigaba a few weeks after he was appointed public enterprises minister. She says the meeting was attended by Jet Airways CEO Naresh Goyal.

Carolus says one of the SAA board members attended the meeting called by Gigaba where everyone was made to wait for three hours for the Jet Airways CEO to arrive.

She says when he got to the meeting, he started to interrogate the board about the SAA route to Mumbai.

“He was quite discourteous to the board member and started to interrogate her about why the SAA was not getting off the route and that they should be getting off the route.”

She says during the course of that meeting, Malusi took a back seat and said nothing.

“We certainly thought it was most peculiar, I mean it just didn’t make sense; he made no contribution to the discussion, he just allowed the president of Jet Airways to effectively lead the meeting.”

Carolus says SAA eventually shut down its route to Mumbai even though it was growing and serviced historical ties between India and South Africa.

She says this decision was to allow the Gupta-linked Jet Airways to take it over.

WATCH LIVE: Cheryl Carolus gives evidence at Zondo Commission


Carolus has accused Gigaba of deliberately sabotaging state-owned enterprises (SOEs) when he was public enterprises minister.

“Within a very short time of his arrival, he seeks virtually get us to hand over a part of our business that was showing promise to some outside entity.”

She says the last straw for her and other board members who resigned en masse in 2012 was when he lied in Parliament and told the speaker SAA financials weren’t complete when he actually knew they were.

“I was not going to protect him when in he was, in fact, placing the country and its institutions like the SAA at risk. It’s quite clear that he has been quite central to a lot of wrongdoing in many of the SOEs.”

She’s emphasised that Gigaba’s actions were deliberate and calculated.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)