A KwaZulu-Natal witness has requested to give evidence in camera before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture as he blows the whistle on how the chairperson of the Jacob G Zuma Foundation, Dudu Myeni, allegedly ordered that contracted funds from a state housing contract, earned by her son’s company, be paid to the then president’s personal charity.
The R2-million contract for an Mpumalanga housing project was subcontracted to Myeni’s son, Thalente Myeni, who gave evidence before the Zondo commission on Monday after being subpoenaed.
He was cross-examined by Advocate Kate Hofmeyr, who sought to understand how his company, Premier Attraction 1016, had won work on an Mpumalanga contract from an engineering company, VNA.
Thalente Myeni said his company had been cut into the contract because he knew the client who was building the housing project meant to accommodate nurses, teachers and other mid-market professionals in Mpumalanga.
But Thalente Myeni could not give evidence on when the contract started, what its scope was and what his company did on the project – although VNA and the witness, Mr X, have told the commission what happened to the funds paid to him in 2015. Myeni junior replied, “I cannot recall”, to most of the questions Hofmeyr put to him.
Hofmeyr told Judge Raymond Zondo, who chairs the commission, that the witness requested to give evidence in camera as he would testify that his daughter had received two threatening calls from Dudu Myeni who asked her: “Why is your father selling us out?”. In a different call, Dudu Myeni asked why the woman’s father was “telling everyone” how the “facilitated funds” had been paid.
The witness will relate how Isibonelo Construction, the company into which Thalente Myeni transferred at least R3-million from his company, Premier Attraction 1016 was then instructed to pay to the Jacob Zuma Foundation and to withdraw cash for Dudu Myeni. Hofmeyr said the in-camera witness, Mr X, would testify that Dudu Myeni instructed that one tranche of the money be cashed in for her and that two further tranches be paid to the Jacob Zuma Foundation which she still chairs.
Myeni completed his evidence on Monday. He could not say what he was paid R2-million on the contract for but confirmed that he made the payments to Isibonelo Construction. He said that he owned many businesses and had many contracts, in response to a question from Judge Zondo on whether the quantum of the contract was not a significant one for a small sole proprietor business. Thalente Myeni refused to tell the State Capture commission what the turnover on his business was. “I can’t recall,” he said in response to that question. It was an answer he repeated at least 10 other times in his evidence on Monday.
The construction company Stefanutti Stocks came in for a drubbing at the commission as well. The company had not provided an affidavit of its version of events related to contracts at the Mhlatuze Water Board which will be probed this week (beginning 17 February 2020), said Hofmeyr. In addition to being SAA chair, Dudu Myeni was the chair of the Mhlatuze Water Board
“It’s simply false,” said Hofmeyr about the construction company’s letter to the commission on Monday in which the company said it was being prejudiced by the commission which it believed had not provided it sufficient time to assemble the information that was needed ahead of evidence starting. Hofmeyr said the commission’s investigators had engaged the company since October 2019 and that it had repeatedly refused requests to provide an affidavit of its version of events.
The delinquent director case against Dudu Myeni brought by OUTA and SAA Pilots Association in relation to how she chaired the near-bankrupt airline SAA is being heard this week too.
The inquiry continues. DM