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'Supra wants your head because you ran away with the airport money', Zondo Commission hears from witness

Jun 22 2019 13:59
Carin Smith

Babadi Tlatsana, director of Koroneka Trading and Projects, told the Zondo Commission on Saturday how she was told at a funeral she attended in Mafikeng in about June 2017 "what are you doing here? Don't you know Supra wants your head, because you ran away with the airport money?"

"I am not safe, even as I am sitting here (testifying). I am even being followed in the town," she told Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

Tlatsana's company was awarded a R51m contract involving SA Express. Koroneka was appointed to handle ground services at the Mafikeng and Pilanesberg airports. Fin24 reported on Friday that the Zondo Commission heard that the SA Express contract to operate the airports was awarded without following due procurement process.

Earlier on Saturday Tlatsana told the commission that she realised at some point that her business had been hijacked.

She told the commission that she realises now she had made a mistake to have trusted Brian van Wyk, a former general manager of commercial at SA Express.

According to Tlatsana, Van Wyk told her early in 2016 that the ANC needed money to be paid. She then obtained bank account details from the ANC regional office and made a R1m donation into the account from the Koroneka account.

"The pressure was unbearable with regard to (Van Wyk's) demand for the money. I agreed to make a donation like he suggested just to get him off my back. Van Wyk was putting pressure on me. It was ANC this, ANC that, Luthuli this...he was making noise about the ANC." She does not remember whether Van Wyk had specifically used the word donation or not.

Tlatsana is still seeking payment in terms of the contract from the North West government. She claims that she was told that, as a state-owned enterprise, SA Express did not have to go out on tender.

It has not yet been made clear to the commission in Tlatsana's submissions what had happened to R29m that was paid into the Koroneka account.

Tlatsana undertook to go through the bank accounts and provide the commission with comprehensive details of payments.

Asked by Zondo whether she would still claim she must be paid in terms of the agreements even if it turns out the contracts involved were based on fraud or corruption, Tlatsana responded that she would have to obtain legal advice before she could answer that.

Tlatsana told the commission of two mysterious men who came to see her after she began to stop payments from being paid from the Koroneka account without her knowledge.

"In January 2016 two men came to my office. They looked strange and drove a big Mercedes with a GP registration number. One of them was called 'Sipho'. They said they came to intervene in my misunderstanding about Brian van Wyk, because Van wyk is expecting money from Koroneka and I am not giving him the money and he is under threat because he promised to pay people money. They said their portion is also in that package," Tlatsana testified.

"I told them I do not understand what they are talking about. Then they were fixing their jackets and it made me worried that maybe there was a gun there. They were also making movements like threatening me (with traditional muti). They said they might come back a next time and visit me at my house. I was very scared."

She said someone called "Sipho" started calling her to say they can see her movements as she goes about her day, including going to her child's school.

"He said he was sent by the person with whose money I ran away and who lives in the Johannesburg area and that these people need their money. He asked if he must come and kill me. He wanted between R1m and R1.5m from me."

Tlatsana made a case at the local police after these threats and submitted voice recordings. Zondo said he found it unacceptable that the police has still not come back to Tlatsana in regard to the death threats she alleges was made to her.

Tlatsana told the commission she was arrested on December 15, 2016 and charged with fraud in relation to the business of Koroneka. She was granted bail in the amount of R500 000. She paid the bail from the Koroneka bank account.

She said the case has been provisionally withdrawn after she submitted an affidavit to the Hawks and the bail money was returned to her. She indicated to the commission that, as far as she understands, other parties are being investigated for money laundering relating to the matter.

The commission will continue with proceedings on Monday.

sa express  |  zondo commission
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