Ex-SAA board member Kwinana tells Zondo she didn't know she approved R1bn deal

Evidence before the state capture commission showed that Swissport was opposed to a 30% BEE deal that would see it losing R90 million of its annual earnings from SAA.

A YouTube screengrab of former SAA Technical board chair and SAA board member Yakhe Kwinana appearing at the state capture inquiry on 2 November 2020.

JOHANNESBURG - Former SAA Technical board chair and SAA board member Yakhe Kwinana maintained that she did not know that she approved a R1 billion contract with Swissport after many conversations with her professional friend, Vuyisile Ndzeku.

Evidence before the state capture commission showed that Swissport was opposed to a 30% BEE deal that would see it losing R90 million of its annual earnings from SAA.

But the inquiry has heard that the company's fortunes were turned around by Kwinana and Ndzeku.

Evidence leader Advocate Kate Hofmeyer: "Hence Yakhe’s demand fell nothing short of demanding that the CEO of Swissport South Africa must sign on the spot that he accepts the bankruptcy of Swissport's ground handling division or else SAA will sever the relationship with Swissport."

Hofmeyer read an email from Swissport CEO Peter Kohl to his board, which initially showed that the ground handling company was unwilling to agree to demands by SAA to forfeit 30% of its revenues to accommodate a BEE partner.

Hofmeyer: "Of annual SAA revenues of R300 million, Swissport would need to part with R90 million in favor of a BEE company of SAA's choice. Apart from being illegal and entirely outside the provisions of the BEE Act, SAA's demands would bankrupt Swissport's ground handling business."

But the involvement of JM Aviation's Vuyisile Ndzeku changed all that and Swissport was awarded the contract of more than R1 billion.

Kwinana then explained: "I didn't think this was a contract. I thought we were approving only the terms and conditions, not the whole contract."

To which an irate Zondo responded: "Ms Kwinana, you are a chartered accountant. You said you approved the contract. Initially, you said you did not know about the contract... you are shown a resolution and you've accepted that and you've approved the contract. Now, what are you saying? You're saying that you don't know the contract, only the terms and conditions?"

Ndzeku's JM Aviation received R28 million from Swissport.

Kwinana initially said that her relationship with Ndzeku was limited to SAA but later said that he would ask her for advice on his other businesses.

She denied even before she was asked that she received kickbacks from Ndzeku.

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