Legal firm under investigation for improper links with Denel


The Special Investigation Unit (SIU) is probing legal firm Khampha Attorneys over its ties to former Denel management.

The SIU told parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) during a briefing at the beginning of March that the former chair of the Denel board (Daniel Mantsha) was nominated by the owner of Khampha Attorneys (presumably Azwinndini Khampha), and that they subsequently engaged in an improper relationship.

SIU lead investigator Zodwa Xesibe said “It is alleged that former Chairperson of the Denel Board had during 2016, and on a number of occasions thereafter, appointed Khampha Attorneys…to render legal professional services to Denel without following proper procurement processes. This firm was not listed on Denel’s database of service providers. In addition, this firm was also not part of the existing panel of legal experts.

“It is further alleged that some of the instructions were solely advancing the former Chairperson’s personal interests as well as that of the Gupta family in the legal defence of one entity, Fireblade, which owns a private passenger terminal at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.”

“We identified a conflict of interest,” Xesibe said, as the chair of the former board at the time and the owner of Khampha were related, and the Khampha owner ended up benefitting from the Denel chair’s appointment. The SIU found that the procurement of services from Khampha was irregular and there was no contractual agreement signed with Denel. Fees were negotiated outside normal processes and no records were kept by Khampha Attorneys of work done for Denel.

Xesibe said the SIU is referring the account of R10 million to the Legal Practice Council for taxation and looking at possible criminal referral for the former Group CEO (presumably Zwelakhe Ntshepe at the time) with the aim of finalising everything by the end of March 2021. The SIU is referring Khampha Attorneys to the Legal Practice Council and looking at administrative action thereafter. It is also looking at other criminal referrals especially regarding the relationship between the Denel chair and instructions issued by the former CFO.

Khampha Attorneys had not responded to a defenceWeb request for further information by the time of publishing.