Denel at the Zondo Commission


State-owned defence and technology conglomerate Denel today (Monday) made its first appearance at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into allegations of state capture, fraud and other wrongdoings.

The first person to take the stand in the Parktown, Johannesburg, building where the Commission is sitting is Kgathatso Tlhakudi, deputy director-general at Minister Pravin Gordhan’s Department of Public Enterprises.

Denel, via its Group Executive: Communication and Public Affairs, Vuyelwa Qinga, last week indicated the group did not know who would be called to give evidence to the Commission.

The Commission’s media office said in a statement its legal team “is in the process of identifying and/or consulting with other witnesses who will be called to appear over the next few weeks”.

Denel and the part it played in state capture allegedly centres around the establishment of an offshore company – Denel Asia. The proposed joint venture between the South African defence conglomerate and VR Laser, one of its suppliers and an apparent Gupta-controlled company, was turned down by National Treasury.

Earlier this year Department of Public Enterprises Acting Director-General Thutho Shomang told Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises Denel wiped out revenue worth R3 billion to corruption through the Denel Asia joint venture against all advice including Denel’s own due diligence report, which advised against doing business with VR Laser in its various incarnations.

Denel partnered with the politically connected VR Laser in 2016 to establish Denel Asia, but after “differences of opinion with National Treasury” and “negative media attention to the detriment of the Denel brand, both locally and internationally,” Denel exited the joint venture in August 2017.