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Zondo commission hears how SA Express paid R31m to Koreneka

The state capture inquiry heard on Wednesday how South African Airways (SAA) sister company, SA Express (SAX) was used as a conduit by politicians to steal money from the North West government.

SAA treasurer Phumeza Nhantsi testimony closed the first aspect of evidence which related to the capture of the aviation sector and the R15-billion restructuring project.

SA Express divisional manager for security management, Timothy Ngwenya told the Commission that whistle-blower and businesswoman, Babadi Tlatsana’s company, Koreneka had been paid R31-million in 2016 for service invoices which were not in an agreement between the airline and the company.

A 2015 deal between SAX and the North West department of community safety and transport is full of corruption and an investigation by the airline’s commercial manager, Arson Phiri revealed the North West government’s payments to SAX were excessive.

The agreement was signed off by the airline’s executives, Brian van Wyk and Inati Ntshanga and envisaged to move up to R400-million out of the North West government account to SA Express.

The commission which was split to various entities was around R97-million.

During Phiri’s investigation he found that SAX received a concession subsidy and route-marketing subsidy from Dube Tradeport which would have been costs incurred by the airline.

The agreement was signed for five years which Phiri said is excessive since one year is enough to ensure the route is profitable.