Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) says it has demanded that South African Airways Technical (SAAT) begin legal proceedings to recover about R5m from its senior executives.

Numsa said on Sunday that it had not ruled out a strike at SAAT, where the trade union’s members were allegedly being victimised for attempting to blow the whistle on corruption.

The union is also calling for the enforcement of a labour court judgment in August that ordered the suspension of senior SAAT executives.

The company has indicated it would appeal against the judgment. No time frame had been given for a response, but a strike would remain the last resort, Numsa spokeswoman Phakamile Hlubi said.

Numsa’s allegations are based on the findings of an Open Water Risk Solutions report, which was finalised in May.

The forensic report confirmed that proper supply chain management policies were not followed at SAAT, said Hlubi.

This exposed SAAT to "undue financial obligations".

In its report, Open Water found that, in one instance, SAAT suffered a loss of at least R5m, said Numsa.

The trade union has now demanded that those identified in the Open Water report for having been involved in irregularities be held liable. In May, Open Water made recommendations following an investigation that alleged tender fraud involving SAAT managers.

"That report speaks in detail about the rampant looting that’s taking place and how senior managers at SAAT are allegedly flouting tender processes in order to ensure that certain suppliers are approved at preferred bidding," said Hlubi.

Open Water’s report, commissioned in November 2015 by management at SAAT, paints a picture of tender manipulation by procurement staff over five years, as tenders were awarded, cancelled and then repackaged.

South African Airways (SAA) acting CEO Musa Zwane, who is the SAAT CEO, said earlier in September that while the final draft of the report was completed in May, it had been returned to the Open Water consultancy to fill in gaps.

SAA spokesman Tlali Tlali said on Sunday: "We confirm receipt of correspondence from Numsa ... and have taken note of its contents. The letter will be referred to the relevant internal structures for consideration."

• An earlier version of this article said that South African Airways Technical did not respond to requests for comment. This is incorrect, spokesperson Tlali Tlali speaks on behalf of the SAA Group. Business Day regrets the error.

gernetzkyk@businessive.co.za

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