Neels Blom Writer at large
Bongani Maseko. Picture: BUSINESS DAY
Bongani Maseko. Picture: BUSINESS DAY

The high court has ordered the board of Airports Company SA (Acsa) to provide reasons for not having suspended and disciplined CEO Bongani Maseko over corruption allegations and breaches of the Public Finance Management Act.

Court documents forwarded by a group of concerned employees name Acsa’s chairman, the board and the ministers of transport and of finance as respondents to the order issued on Wednesday. The applicant is Acsa’s group legal counsel, Bonginkosi Mfusi.

Acsa said on Thursday the court order was unexpected.

A spokesman said Acsa had in December 2017 delivered a notice of intention to defend this application. "At the time, the company called upon Mr Mfusi to produce documents which Acsa required to deal with his application. Mr Mfusi has not yet provided such documents."

Further, the spokesman said, attorneys for Acsa had not received notice that the application was set down for this week. "The company has accordingly instructed its attorneys to investigate the circumstances under which the matter was set down and to further consider its options in this regard."

The order comes more than a year after Acsa’s board approved the pursuit of corruption charges against Maseko and three associates: Percy Sithole, Jabu Khambule and Bongani Machobane. The associates were found guilty at an internal disciplinary hearing on corruption charges and of wasteful and fruitless expenditure in terms of the act.

The group said the charges were similar to those against Maseko on February 6 2018.

In 2016, Business Day reported the group as saying that corruption and tender fraud had become a "daily occurrence at Acsa". They also alleged that Maseko hired a relationship consultant, Dominic Ntsele, to manage the fallout affecting the CEO personally.

In June 2017, law firm Norton Rose Fulbright recommended that Maseko be charged with contravening the act.

DA MP Manuel de Freitas at the time called for Maseko’s suspension. He said it was concerning that board meeting minutes showed that the board was aware of the issues and had even recommended the CEO be suspended, but nothing had been done. The employees’ group said it was concerned the board had not taken action against Maseko and accused it of condoning corruption.

It has now asked President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ministers of transport and of finance to take action without waiting for another court decision.