A Denel company logo at the entrance of their business divisions in Pretoria. Picture: REUTERS/SIPHIWE SIBEKO
A Denel company logo at the entrance of their business divisions in Pretoria. Picture: REUTERS/SIPHIWE SIBEKO

State-owned arms manufacturer Denel has appointed its current COO, William Hlakoane, as the company’s acting group CEO.

Hlakoane takes up the role on Monday, as current acting CEO Talib Sadik’s contract comes to an end.

Denel board chair Monhla Hlahla said Hlakoane’s appointment allows for a seamless transition into the role.

Hlakoane, who is a mechanical engineer with an MBA from Milpark Business School, takes over from Sadik in the interim position after CEO Danie du Toit resigned in 2020 after less than two years.

Denel was badly damaged by state capture when dedicated project funds were misused, revenue dropped and Denel’s reputation in the international market suffered. While it has been in a turnaround since 2018, it has not been able to trade its way out of trouble.

The company is severely cash-strapped and has been battling to pay employees.

Trade unions lodged a court application against Denel’s directors for failing to implement an earlier labour court ruling compelling it to pay staff all outstanding  salaries from May to July. The order also included unpaid retirement and medical aid deductions.

The unions have claimed that the directors are getting full salaries while their members are earning partial pay.

Denel told the court it has liquidity challenges and its shareholder, the government, has not responded to multiple requests for additional funding.  

The matter was heard in January and judgment has been reserved.

Hlahla on Monday said Hlakoane had a wealth of experience in the manufacturing sector, backed by a solid track record that added value to Denel.

“He is an experienced executive in operations management with in-depth technical abilities, project management and business development,” she said.

Hlahla assured Denel employees, suppliers, customers and all stakeholders that while the board was dealing with the difficult financial challenges, the focus remained on the business turnaround towards sustainable growth and profitability.  


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