Denel top trio still on “special leave”, Minister not yet briefed on issue


Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown will be briefed by the Denel board “in the foreseeable future” on why it decided to suspend three senior members of staff, including chief executive Riaz Saloojee, in October last year.

Chief financial official Fikile Mhlonto and Denel group company secretary Elizabeth Africa have, along with Saloojee been on “special leave” following the first meeting of the newly constituted Denel board late in September.

Brown’s spokesman Colin Cruywagen this week told defenceWeb the Minister was waiting for a suitable opportunity to be briefed by the Denel board on its investigation following the suspension.

Early In December she told a Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry meeting she expected a report from the Denel board by December 10 and would then decide what action to take. At that time the indication was an announcement would be made early in January.

It appears other government and party political business has put paid to this. Cruywagen said Brown was due to attend ANC and Cabinet lekgotlas ahead of President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address on February 11 and could not specify a date when the Minister would meet with Denel chairman Daniel Mantsha and other board members.

No reasons were given for the suspension when the trio were put on special leave at the end of September last year but there was speculation it could have to do with the acquisition of BAE Systems Land Systems South Africa. Inferences were apparently made to the effect that the acquisition had exhausted the State-owned defence industry conglomerate’s cash resources. This was refuted by Brown.

Other allegations of suppliers and sub-contractors not being paid were also made and to date an official request by the Democratic Alliance in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act has not, to the best of defenceWeb’s knowledge, shed any further light on them.

Zwelakhe Ntshepe, Denel Group business development executive, has been acting chief executive in Saloojee’s absence.