I feared for my life - witness tells Zondo Commission in NorthWest, SA Express probe | Fin24
 
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I feared for my life - witness tells Zondo Commission in NorthWest, SA Express probe

Jun 22 2019 11:18
Carin Smith

My business was hijacked and I did not know what to do about it or whom to talk to, Babadi Tlatsana, director of Koroneka Trading and Projects told the Zondo Commission into state capture on Saturday.

Fin24 reported on Friday that the Zondo Commission heard that the SA Express contract to the operate Mafikeng and Pilanesberg airports was awarded without following due procurement process.

The five-year contracts were entered into in 2015, between the airline and the North West Department of Safety and Transport. The contract stipulated that department was to make a pre-payment subsidy of R112m in the 2014/15 financial year.

The Head of Department in the Department of Community Safety and Transport, Kutlwano Phatudi, told the inquiry that a decision to award the contract was taken without going on tender, in a process which she said she objected to.

Koroneka was appointed to handle ground services at both airports.

Tlatsana told the commission of how she started to realise that her business account was being misused.

In May and Septembet 2015, for example, a total of R9m was paid from the Koroneka account. Also in September of that year, an amount of R500 000 was paid from the account. In November R5m was paid from the account, but later stopped by the bank.

According to Tlatsana, she was told by Brian van Wyk, a former SA Express general manager of commercial, that the money was for security cameras.

"Whenever I asked questions about money going from the company account, I only got vague answers from the auditor," said Tlatsana.

She described Van Wyk as an "arrogant bully".
 
According to Tlatsana, Van Wyk told her that he has a lot of support from the ANC. Tlatsana testified that she kept quiet about what was happening in her company as she feared for her life.

Van Wyk told her a total of R14.9 would go towards the security cameras.

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo put it to Tlatsana that some people would say that she did not report anything because she was "paid" to keep quiet. He also asked her what a payment of R500 000 into one of her other business accounts was for. She said that was her "dividend".

Tlatsana said, in retrospect, she had been "foolish".

It was put to Tlatsana that R9.9m was paid from the Koroneka account to Neo Solutions. The total amount was subsequently paid over to a company registered in the name of the life partner of Van Wyk.

Tlatsana said it got to a point where she started to take steps to prevent money from being paid from the Koroneka account without her knowledge. She was contacted by Van Wyk.

She and Van Wyk arranged to meet up at a Spur in December 2015 and Tlatsana bought a recording device to tape the conversation.

According to Tlatsana, the meeting was to discuss an amount of R20m that was paid into the Koroneka account by the government of the North West province.

"Van Wyk was desperate for the money," said Tlatsana.

sa express  |  zondo commission
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