FORMER SAA technical head of procurement, Advocate Nontsasa Memela, allegedly scored herself R2,5million from an irregular tender.

Acting head of supply chain management at SAA technical, Schalk Human, told the Zondo Commission yesterday this was uncovered by an independent investigation conducted by Open Water, a forensic accounting services and fraud prevention consultancy.

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The R1,3 billion tender to procure components for SAA was awarded to US-based company AAR Corporation, which partnered with local company JM Aviation.

Memela allegedly assisted JM Aviation to prepare documents that would assist it to score a five-year contract, which was awarded in May 2016. JM Aviation allegedly paid R2,5 million towards a house Memela bought in 2016.

Human said Memela, former SAA technical board chairwoman Yakhe Kwinana, board member Dr John Tambi, and former chief executive Musa Zwane visited AAR’s maintenance, repair and operations facilities in the US in May 2015.

He said the supply chain policy only allowed for engagement with suppliers if a sample was required or as part of evaluation.

“This process was not at an evaluation stage and the members that attended this engagement were not part of the evaluation committee. They’re of other structures, board members and heads of structures.”

He said it would be inappropriate to engage with suppliers while there was a tender under review.

Human told the commission the Open Water probe found the contract had been cancelled in 2015 and AAR knew about this before the cancellation was made official.

Zondo asked if that was not strange.

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Human said: “It appears irregular that a bidder is aware that there will be a cancellation prior to the date of the cancellation.

“It would suggest to me that information was made available to this supplier outside of the normal procurement process.”

He said there was nothing wrong with sharing info, but it should be given to all bidders.

Human said chief strategy officer Barry Parsons resigned from the SAA technical board because of the proposed AAR partnership, alleging there was a hidden agenda.

“It requires an urgent independent investigation,” he said.