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Khumbudzo Ntshavheni ‘probably culpable’ in Denel’s capture when she served on its board

Ntshavheni ‘probably culpable’ in Denel’s capture when she served on its board..  A current member of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, is “probably culpable” in the Guptas’ capturing of Denel, along with other then-board members of the parastatal, the State Capture Inquiry has found.

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Ntshavheni 'probably culpable' in Denel's capture when she served on its board
Ntshavheni ‘probably culpable’ in Denel’s capture when she served on its board—

The Presidency released the second volume of the commission’s report on Tuesday afternoon.

The second part of the volume deals with the capture of state weapons manufacturer Denel, when Daniel Mantsha was its board chairperson and Lynne Brown the minister of public enterprises.

According to the commission, Mantsha was a central cog in the Guptas’ and their lieutenant Salim Essa’s machinery to capture Denel.

A key turning point in Denel’s fortunes was Brown’s appointment of a new board for the entity in 2015, with Mantsha as its chair, and Ntshavheni – at that stage not an MP or in government – as a board member.

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Despite that, the 2011-board were lauded for its work; only one member survived the chop.

“The board member, whose term was extended, was Mr [Johannes] Motseki, who appears to have had certain links to the Guptas,” reads the report.

“In the case of Denel, Ms Brown participated in state capture by using the powers of her office to install members of the Denel Board of Directors persons whom she believed, probably because she was told so, would facilitate or at least not oppose the Guptas’ state capture scheme,” reads the report.

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The suspension of CEO Riaz Saloojee, chief financial officer Fikile Mhlontlo and group company secretary Elizabeth Africa by the board, with Mantsha leading the charge, is one of the key events in the eventual capture of the entity. The three were later let go with handsome, golden handshakes and without a disciplinary inquiry ever taking place.

There is testimony before the commission that Salojee resisted the Guptas’ overtures.

“The suspensions were, literally, weaponised to serve a corrupt purpose,” reads the report.

“All the directors who supported Mr Mantsha in his corrupt endeavour to get the three executives out of the way are similarly probably culpable,” reads the report.

The commission found that one of the directors, Nonyameko Mandindi, didn’t support the three executives’ suspension.

“The question why Mr Mantsha and, indeed, probably other members of the 2015 board so misconducted themselves can now be answered. The purpose of the suspension of Mr Saloojee, Mr Mhlonthlo and Ms Africa was to remove an obstruction from the path of the Guptas.”

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Ntshavheni, by her own admission, supported Mantsha in the removal of the three.

At the commission’s request, she submitted an affidavit on the matter.

The commission was not impressed with her submission.

“She said she agrees with Mr Mantsha’s position and has sought to defend the board’s position, on the same basis as Mr Mantsha did. Her and Mr Mantsha’s explanation makes absolutely no sense,” reads the report.

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“Minister Ntshavheni, like Mr Mantsha, said there was strong evidence that the three executives were guilty of serious acts of misconduct, and this evidence was already there when the executives were suspended. If that was so, the question is: why was that evidence not placed before the three executives in a disciplinary inquiry within a month after they were suspended?”

 

The commission also rejected Ntshavheni and Mantsha’s assertion that the delay was caused by Denel’s legal head, saying a board with all the evidence at its disposal wouldn’t be delayed in convening a disciplinary inquiry.

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The report didn’t mention any relationship between Ntshavheni and the Guptas or Essa.

Ntshavheni – a fundraiser for Ramaphosa during his CR17 campaign – was first elected to Parliament during the 2019 elections.

Ramaphosa appointed her to his Cabinet as minister of small business development.

She acted as minister in the Presidency after Jackson Mthembu’s death, until Mondli Gungubele’s appointment in this position in August 2021.

During that Cabinet reshuffle, she was moved to the communications and digital technologies portfolio.

 

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