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SAA concedes infiltration by crime syndicates

Publish date: 07 October 2019
Issue Number: 844
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: South Africa

An investigation of what caused a Mango Boeing to nosedive during a flight between Johannesburg and Cape Town has added to SAA's woes at a time when the Hawks are probing widespread corruption and looting at SAA, which owns Mango. The nosedive has been blamed on a defective part in the Mango Airlines' Boeing 737, fitted at maintenance subsidiary SAA Technical, according to the Sunday Times. It says SAA admitted it had been infiltrated by an international crime syndicate that had looted hundreds of millions of rands through questionable tenders which include the supply of possibly suspect parts. SAA's legal, risk and compliance executive, Vusi Pikoli, said the Hawks and NPA had revived organised crime and serious corruption investigations at the airline. These stem from nine audit reports that were previously suppressed. A preliminary report by the Civil Aviation Authority on last month's Mango incident highlights a defective replacement motor with a service history that ‘could not be determined with certainty’. None of the 147 people on board the early morning flight on 2 September was injured and the aircraft made a safe emergency landing in Johannesburg. Pikoli is quoted as saying a ‘massive’ investigation involving international law enforcement and aviation regulatory authorities was under way into a sophisticated syndicate ‘which includes senior SAA procurement executives’. Hawks and SAA sources said those under investigation included US and French aviation supply and maintenance companies, including their staff in SA. SAA reportedly told the Sunday Times it was addressing ‘systemic performance issues’ at SAA Technical, including a full ‘workshops repair and overhaul capability review’.

Full Sunday Times report (subscription needed)