Ex-Denel CEO Saloojee begged not to be fired, Zondo Inquiry hears

Riaz Saloojee is accused of roping in Gupta associate, Salim Essa, to award a contract to a company, VR Laser, owned by the family.

A screengrab of Transnet’s former Denel group chief executive Riaz Saloojee appearing at the state capture inquiry on 26 November 2020. Picture: SABC/YouTube

CAPE TOWN - Former Denel group chief executive Riaz Saloojee cried and begged not to be fired from the arms manufacture.

This was according to former chairperson Dan Mantsha, who was giving evidence at the state capture commission on Friday.

Saloojee is accused of roping in Gupta associate, Salim Essa, to award a contract to a company, VR Laser, owned by the family.

Mantsha told the state capture commission that Saloojee was not an obstacle to Gupta-owned VR Laser because he brought the company to Denel.

"One cannot say that the charges had something to do with VR Laser because he brought it."

Mantsha said that Saloojee also knew there was a strong case against him for approving bridging finance from the private sector without permission from Treasury.

"He pleaded with me, chair, to 'please protect me, I shouldn't be fired'. With respect, I was very troubled to see him crying and to see him pleading."

He said that Saloojee argued that there were no black business leaders in the defence sector and working with VR Laser would help transform the industry.

Saloojee has denied that he instructed executives to work with Essa to award a contract to VR Laser.

WATCH: Ex-Denel board chair Mantsha gives evidence at state capture inquiry