by Anele Danker
The Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority were on Wednesday slapped with a dossier of evidence from a French investigating body which investigated competition and corruption in the airline industry. The dossier clears former South African Airways chairperson Dudu Myeni and directly implicates SAA’s former CEO, American turn-around strategist Coleman Andrews.
The dossier titled “selling the airways” was hand-delivered to the Hawks offices on Wednesday. As part of the dossier are printed emails of Andrews and the Australian company that bought the fleet of aircrafts from SAA. In one of the emails to Coleman, the company’s negotiator Ludi Niekerk signed the mail with the statement “we will remunerate well for the deal if it’s in our favour”.
In a later email, Niekerk wrote to Andrews saying “the principals have agreed to give you 80 million rands, we must just find the vehicle”. The “vehicle” seems to describe how the money would reach Andrews without being suspect. According to the dossier the money was later paid into Andrews’ American bank account.
Andrews left the state-owned airline after allegations of impropriety and financial irregularity was raised against him.
According to SAA management, after Andrews’ sale, the fleet airline owns only 9 planes but leases 60 planes. This transaction alone costs the airline over 1.4 billion rands a year. For his services, Coleman was paid a golden handshake of R230- million in 2001. The dossier confirms Myeni’s statement to parliament’s standing committee of public accounts(SCOPA) last year in which she said Andrews sold the fleet to Australian and German companies only to rent them back at an exaggerated fee to the airline.
Last year Myeni told parliament that two forensic investigations found that corruption was committed by the airline executive and implicated Andrews in a questionable relationship with the buyers of the airline. The Hawks said they were investigating the dossier. Minister of state-owned enterprises Pravin Gordhan was not available for comment but his spokesperson said the minister would work with the Hawks to ensure that justice prevails.
Though the dossier proves Myeni’s account of events, Myeni was not convinced justice will prevail. “I am grateful that this document is with Hawks but these facts are not new to me. I have told parliament and the entire South Africa of the rot I found and cleaned up at SAA but nothing was done. Instead, some leaders pointed fingers at me for talking. I am also grateful that these emails and whatever else come at a time when we have the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture.”
In a statement lobby group Black Caucus applauded Myeni saying: “It’s becoming clearer that state capture is as old as South Africa and those who captured the state were handsomely rewarded. We applaud Myeni’s attempt to awake us from our sleep even when she was viciously attacked for it”.