The words of Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan came readily to mind following appearances at the Zondo Commission by current Denel chair Monhla Hlahla and a former board member Nonyameko Mandindi.
Gordhan is on record as saying the State-owned defence and technology group is “a prime example of the ill-effects of state capture” in reference to the devastation wrought by the Guptas.
This was reinforced when the Denel pair took to the stand at Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, the official title of the Zondo Commission, in Johannesburg on Monday.
Both Hlahla and Mandindi accused the previous Denel board of crippling the State-owned enterprise (SOE) according to News24. They were testifying on corruption allegations at Denel after a new board was appointed by Lynne Brown, then public enterprises minister.
Hlahla is reported by the Johannesburg headquartered digital daily as saying: “The board long decided it would undertake a lifestyle audit. It was just a matter of, with a limited budget, the (Denel) audit committee being able to prioritise investigations and allegations of corruption. We also lost a lot of time during COVID-19, I think maybe a lot of work would have been done by now”.
She told the Commission Denel suffered “huge reputational damage” because of poor decisions taken by the previous board and that the current board decided to investigate Denel’s supply chain process to improve both credibility and reputation.
The Zondo Commission is set to hear more Denel evidence this week following an 18 month break since former Denel chief executive Riaz Saloojee appeared. He told the Commission he was dismissed because he refused to co-operate with the Guptas and what News24 termed “their desire to capture Denel”.
Danie du Toit was appointed chief executive in the wake of Saloojee’s departure. He voluntarily left in August and the number operational number one at Denel is Talib Sadik, interim in the position he once was a permanent occupant of.