Zondo report confirms Guptas captured Denel


From an internationally respected company in the defence and technology sectors to one “almost on its knees today” is one of many damning phrases in the 140-page report of the Zondo Commission into Denel.

The report was yesterday (Tuesday 2 February) handed to The Presidency along with Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo’s report on Transnet.

Former Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown and former Denel board chair Daniel Mantsha are named on numerous occasions for their “contribution” to allowing State Capture to run riot at the defence and technology conglomerate.

Parts of the Zondo Denel report echo an assertion by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan to the National Assembly in 2019. He said Denel was “a case study in damage visited on a State-owned enterprise by State Capture-driven corruption and thievery”.

The index of the report is wide-ranging and includes the contract for production of a new Badger infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) for the SA Army under Project Hoefyster. Other lowlights in Denel’s recent history listed are VR Laser; “Guptas begin efforts to capture Denel through VR Laser”; Brown replaces “all but one” of Denel’s non-executive directors; “Denel board chair touts Guptas to Denel CEO at Saxonwold compound”; Denel pays “very large cash settlements to suspended executives”; and the Denel/Asia venture; ending with “capture of Denel established”.

Evidence heard by the Zondo Commission was the 2015 Denel board, under Mantsha’s chairmanship, in part, failed to carry out its fiduciary duties in suspending three executive, failing to ensure disciplinary enquiries were held within a reasonable time and failing to agree to proposals made by the suspended executives. Had this been done allegations would have been “tested expeditiously” and the matter resolved without undue delay.

Zondo’s recommendation is for law enforcement to conduct further investigations with a view to “possible prosecution” of people who were Denel directors in 2015. Mantsha and three unnamed directors, the report states, showed themselves to be unfit to hold directors’ positions and follow-up investigations in this regard with a view to having them declared delinquent should be initiated.

Zondo’s Denel report ends by stating: “Denel itself, the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) and the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) would all have standing to consider appropriate proceedings against Mantsha and other erstwhile member of the 2015 Denel board shown to have abetted him in his efforts to capture Denel for the Guptas”.

The current Deputy Chief Justice of South Africa recommends Denel, Gordhan’s department and the CIPC consider bringing “appropriate proceedings”.