SCORPIO

Justice Department wants former SAA chair Dudu Myeni to pay up after that ‘fundamentally misleading’ letter

By Jessica Bezuidenhout 19 September 2019
Caption
Former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni. (Photo: Gallo Images / Rapport / Deon Raath)

Former South African Airways chairperson Dudu Myeni has been served with a writ of execution in the amount of R200,000. The writ, obtained by the Department of Justice and Correctional Services, is aimed at recovering costs associated with Myeni’s unsuccessful legal challenge of a damning compliance notice issued against her in 2017 by the Commission for Intellectual Properties and Companies.

A R200,000 bill owed by Dudu Myeni remains unpaid more than a year after the High Court in Pretoria issued a writ of execution against the former chairperson of South African Airways.

The Department of Justice obtained the writ on behalf of the Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission (CIPC) in August 2018, but the money has yet to be recovered. The department is engaging Myeni’s lawyers about how best to do this.

Daily Maverick has established that the writ, obtained in August 2018, but only served on Myeni several months later, makes provision for moveable goods to the value of R201,000 to be attached for sale by public auction.

The Department of Justice confirmed it seeks an amount of R201,000, saying although the writ was served by the Sheriff and property attached, no money has been collected as yet due to discussions with Myeni’s attorneys to agree on a possible payment method for settlement of the debt.

A R200,000 bill owed by Dudu Myeni remains unpaid more than a year after the High Court in Pretoria issued a writ of execution against the former chairperson of South African Airways.

This information emerges as Myeni battles damning allegations levelled against her at the State Capture Commission by former Bosasa executive Angelo Agrizzi.

Agrizzi had testified that Bosasa allegedly gave Myeni a Louis Vuitton handbag stuffed with cash and that she had allegedly fed him and the late Gavin Watson with official documents relating to a criminal investigation into Bosasa.

Daily Maverick understands that she has applied to cross-examine Agrizzi — a hugely significant move as it requires Myeni to put forward a version beyond bald denials of the allegations and potentially, to step into the witness stand herself.

Myeni also faces a High Court application by civic organisation Outa to have her declared a delinquent director.

Daily Maverick sent questions to three email addresses listed for Myeni in court papers and sent a reminder to her cellphone number, but received no response to questions that included whether she intends challenging the writ.

The genesis of the R200,000 claim against her rests in a 2016 investigation by the companies registrar (CIPC) into claims that Myeni had allegedly lied to former Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba when she sent a letter seeking approval for a then planned transaction to buy new aircraft.

Myeni was unable to produce board minutes to back her claim in the letter to Gigaba that the airline board had resolved to buy only two aircraft when in fact, it had resolved to buy 10 — although she had denied wrongdoing, it brought into question her motive for having attempted to split the deal.

As a result, the CIPC slapped her with a compliance notice and ordered her to notify both the then SAA board and former finance minister Pravin Gordhan about that adverse finding against her in January 2017.

She did so, but under protest, and headed to the Companies Tribunal in a bid to have the CIPC compliance notice cancelled as well as the finding that she had breached sections of the Companies Act. Myeni’s case was dismissed.

Although this matter emanates from Myeni’s tenure as chairperson of the national carrier, she is seemingly liable for the R200,000 in her personal capacity.

The airline told Daily Maverick it had no record of an SAA board resolution authorising payment of external legal counsel fees for Myeni’s case against CIPC, nor has it been billed for such.

Myeni was chairperson of the embattled airline between 2012 and October 2017, a period marked by significant internal strife and public condemnation over a string of controversial deals.

In 2017 Outa, in conjunction with the South African Airways Pilots’ Association, filed court papers to have Myeni declared a delinquent director. The matter is set down for 20 days, beginning on October 7 2019.

Among the controversial transactions in which Myeni is alleged to have breached either the Public Finance Management Act or the Companies Act by virtue of her conduct are:

  • A 2016 board decision to award a cash-raising deal to little-known BNP Capital.
  • That Myeni allegedly scuppered a $100-million-a-year deal involving Emirates Airlines in 2016 when she told then acting SAA CEO, Nico Bezuidenhout, not to sign an MOU in Paris because former president Jacob Zuma didn’t support it.

While Myeni is opposing the delinquency application, if it is successful it could bar her from holding a directorship of any company for a set period and impact on her continued stint as chairperson of the Jacob Zuma Foundation, a charitable trust set up in the name of the former president.

Outa told Daily Maverick that its legal team is working comprehensively to prepare for the trial, but indications are that the case may well be postponed after Myeni’s initial attorneys of record withdrew three months ago.

Asked whether it is worth pursuing Myeni now that she is out of SAA, Outa said its intention was never just to hold Myeni to account, but also to send a message to all state employees in whatever capacity, that they would be held accountable for their actions for and on behalf of the state.

High-ranking officials have for far too long simply bled state entities dry only to resign with no consequences to their looting. This is the only manner in which we can effectively send the message to those in positions of power and influence that they are being watched and should they act foul, they will suffer the consequences.”

It is unclear whether Myeni’s fight against Outa is being funded out of her own pocket, but the organisation does seek an order that any costs incurred by Myeni in this matter, but which may be paid for by a public entity party to the proceedings, be repaid to such an entity in Myeni’s personal capacity.

South African Airways is cited as a party along with the Minister of Finance. DM

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