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Former Denel exec says her advice on deal with Gupta-owned VR Laser was ignored

Celia Malahlela read an email at the state capture commission on Tuesday, which she wrote to Denel Land Systems CEO Stephan Burger, who she said ignored her advice to follow proper procedures to award a 10-year contract to Gupta-owned VR Laser.

A screengrab of former Denel procurement executive Celia Malahlela appearing at the state capture inquiry in Johannesburg on 27 October 2020. Picture: SABC/YouTube

JOHANNESBURG - Former Denel procurement executive Celia Malahlela on Tuesday struggled to hold back her tears as she recalled how the state-owned arms manufacturer was looted.

Malahlela read an email at the state capture commission, which she wrote to Denel Land Systems CEO Stephan Burger, who she said ignored her advice to follow proper procedures to award a 10-year contract to Gupta-owned VR Laser.

She told the commission that the contract was eventually awarded without her knowledge.

Mahlalela was a procurement executive when Gupta-owned VR Laser was awarded a 10-year contract through a memorandum of agreement and no open tender.

She wrote an emotional email to Burger who allegedly said that he would defend VR Laser.

“Having read several media reports about allegations of state capture by the Gupta family, there are more concerns about the viability of the partnership and the risks that Denel will be exposed to should Denel decided to continue its relationship with VR Laser,” Mahlalela said while reading from the email.

She continued: “I am struggling to turn a blind eye to this phenomenon. I would like to bring it to your attention that the current CEO of VR Laser has acknowledged their ties with the Gupta family and the president’s son [Duduzane Zuma].”

Burger accused her of being part of the decision, but she denied this.

“However, with the rate that this controversy is unfolding, I am not certain that this company will survive long enough for my children to see it,” she read.

Mahlalela said that VR Laser was appointed even though Denel policy was to give first preference to its own subsidiary, LMT Holdings, and in some cases, VR Laser was given inside information to undercut LMT’s prices.

WATCH: State capture commission proceedings

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