Solidarity reveals: Denel foots the bill for flying lessons for premier’s son

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During the weekend Solidarity revealed that in 2017state-owned company Denel had paid a bursary of R1,1 million to the son of North-West Premier, Supra Mahumapelo. This bursary was used to fund Supra Oarabile Mahumapelo’s private flight lessons. This disclosure comes only a few days after the trade union announced that it had launched a bid to have the mismanaged national carrier, the SAA, placed under business rescue.

Denel, which was in financial trouble at the end of last year and was in a fix to pay salaries to its employees, had signed a contract with Mahumapelo Jnr in terms of which the entity agreed to pay for Mahumapelo Jnr’s flight lessons, accommodation, food and laundry services.

According to Solidarity Deputy General Secretary for Defence and Aviation, Deon Reyneke, what makes this agreement controversial is that, historically, Denel’s bursary programme only applied to studies in IT, engineering, finances and business management.

“The granting of this bursary is just more proof of the high level corruption that is prevailing in so many state-owned enterprises in South Africa where cadres are using such enterprises as their personal piggy bank. Moreover, rumours have been doing the rounds for quite some time that Mahumapelo Snr has ties with the Gupta family and is,in the bigger picture, linked to state capture,” Reyneke said.

Reyneke furthermore said that Solidarity had sent a letter to newly appointed Denel Board Chair, Ms Monhla Hlahla, in which the granting of the bursary to Mahumapelo Jnr is disclosed and which calls for an in-depth probe into the granting of the bursary. Among other things, the trade union asked Ms Hlahla whether steps would be taken against Mr Zwelakhe Ntshepe, Denel’s chief executive, who had approved the bursary in his personal capacity, and if so, to what extent?

“Solidarity will not hesitate to take action against state-owned enterprises that squander South African citizens’ tax money,” Reyneke concluded.