Citizen reporter
2 minute read
20 Mar 2019
12:00 pm

WATCH: Former Denel CEO testifies at state capture inquiry

Citizen reporter

The former CEO, Riaz Saloojee, is credited for turning around the fortunes of the state-owned enterprise.

Former Denel CEO Riaz Saloojee testifies at the commission of inquiry into state capture.

Former group chief executive officer of the state-owned enterprise (SOE) Denel, Riaz Saloojee, has taken the witness stand at the commission of inquiry into state capture on Wednesday.

Saloojee told the commission that he joined the SOE in early January 2012 when Malusi Gigaba was still the minister of public enterprises. Lynne Brown replaced Gigaba in May 2014.

The former Denel CEO was part of the Umkhonto weSizwe, an armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC).

The commission of inquiry into state capture heard yesterday from the former board chairperson, Martie Janse van Rensburg, that Brown’s overhaul of the Denel board in 2015 was swiftly followed by the exit of Saloojee credited for turning around the fortunes of the state-owned enterprise.

READ MORE: Denel leadership fought to retain CEO, inquiry told

Evidence leader at the commission on Wednesday advocate Leah Gcabashe said Saloojee, alongside Denel CFO Fikile Mhlonto and group company secretary Elizabeth Africa, were suspended in September 2015.

It was reported that the three were suspended while the board appointed by Brown investigated a number of issues, including acquisitions by the SOE.

However, it was further reported that in 2016, Brown told the parliamentary portfolio committee on public enterprises that the trio was being investigated for irregularities in Denel’s profit statement.

Saloojee told the commission on Wednesday that when he left Denel, the company’s international revenue streams had overtaken its local one, adding that the company became one of the top arms manufacturers in the world.

He said when he joined the SOE, a government guarantee of R1.8 billion was in place so the organisation could contract and raise money, however, it never asked for a bigger one or a cash injection from government.

The former CEO said the organisation had enough order cover in its order book to maintain the company for a period of up to ten years, which had never happened before.

The commission heard from Janse van Rensburg on Tuesday that through a period of time, Denel grew its order book to R35 billion and that “these were confirmed orders” to be executed over a number of years.

READ MORE: ‘Denel board Lynne Brown replaced exceeded summa cum laude’ – Zondo

Gcabashe remarked that according to a comment made by a certain individual who had worked with Saloojee at Denel, the former CEO ran the arms manufacturer like a disciplinarian, treating the company like it was the army.

Watch the proceedings live:

(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu. Additional reporting, Brian Sokutu)

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.