- Former minister Malusi Gigaba says the decision to abandon the SAA's Johannesburg to Mumbai flight route was taken when he was no longer in the position
- Former SAA CEO Sizakele Mzimela accused a Gupta family associate of trying to force SAA executive into signing the flight route deal
- The former minister's special legal advisor berated SAA executives for failing to see the importance of signing the deal.
At the recent Commission of State Capture Inquiry on Monday, Former Minister of Public Enterprises Malusi Gigaba denied having anything to do with SAA’s decision to scrap the Johannesburg to Mumbai flight route.
Gigaba told the commission that the decision to cancel the flight route was not made during his tenure as minister.
The former minister was called in front of the commission to answer questions on the evidence presented by former SAA CEO Sizakele Mzimela. The evidence presented stated that Gigaba failed to prevent SAA from losing the Johannesburg to Mumbai deal and as a result the Gupta-linked airline, Jet Airways, was favoured, according to News24.
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Jet Airways is an Indian airline owned by Naresh Goyal. It is the same airline used by the Gupta family when their flight landed in the Waterkloof military airbase in Pretoria in 2013.
Mzimela testified that she had attended a meeting with Gigaba in January 2011 after he was appointed as Minister of Public Enterprises. The meeting was set to discuss the proposal for SAA to let go of the Joburg to Mumbai route, according to Daily Maverick.
The meeting was attended by SAA executives, the former minister Gigaba and his deputy minister Ben Martins and they waited for over two hours for Goyal to arrive. She added that while waiting, Jet approached the SAA legal team and demanded they sign an agreement to hand over the route.
Gigaba stated that he did not recall waiting that long for Naresh, however, when Goyal arrived at the meeting Gigaba stated that Goyal was arrogant. Martins had to intervene, expressing to Goyal that he could not tell the government and SAA what to do.
Mzmela added that in another meeting in April 2011 with Gigaba, SAA executives and their former minister’s special legal advisor Siyabonga Mahlangu, Mahlangu berated the SAA executives for not abandoning the Joburg to Mumbai route. He said they failed to see the international importance and accused them of wasting taxpayers' money.
Mzimela said that Gigaba was silent at the meeting and did not call Mahlangu out.
In regards to the decision to abandon the route, Gigaba said that even with the evidence presented it should be taken into consideration that the decision was made in 2015 after he was no longer minister.
State Capture Inquiry: Malusi Gigaba testifies that his estranged wife tried to assassinate him
The Minister of Police told Gigaba that the Hawks would contact him. A Captain Mavuso was then assigned to his case, who took his statement.
When asked by evidence leader Advocate Anton Myburgh about when he had made his statement, Gigaba said he could not remember “but it was in the first half of the year” in 2020, according to IOL.
Gigaba added that he had however contacted Captain Mavuso when Mngoma damaged a Mercedes-Benz G Wagon that belonged to his friend.
"When this domestic thing happened by the same person, the fury, the anger with which it happened if you saw that car and how it was damaged, you could see that this person was extremely angry when she did this. The damages to the car cost R500k to fix," he said, as quoted by News24.
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