A testimony leader of the Zondo State Capitol Investigation Commission took a stand on Wednesday after she was falsely accused of deliberately withholding facts from a witness.
Adv. Kate Hofmeyr led the testimony on Wednesday of Nontsasa Memela, suspended procurement chief of the South African Aerospace Technical Subsidiary, SAAT.
Memela, who testified on the fourth day in a row, denies that she influenced a tender process before awarding the R1.2 billion tender in 2016 to suspicious circumstances to US airline AAR and its South African partner JM Aviation.
Her lawyer on Tuesday accused Hofmeyr of deliberately not reading facts in a statement to the detriment of her client.
Hofmeyr read from a transcript on Wednesday showing that she had indeed stated all the facts to Memela.
“The accusation not only compromises my integrity as a witness leader, but casts a shadow over the commission’s processes. The perception now arises that there are witness leaders who refute aspecific facts, ”Hofmeyr told Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, who leads the commission.
During the course of the testimony, Memela’s legal representative repeatedly objected to Hofmeyr’s questions. Memela himself also frequently questioned the nature of Hofmeyr’s questions.
According to Hofmeyr, witness leaders need to set their questions to come up with the truth, even if it sometimes makes witnesses feel uncomfortable. Witness leaders should also be allowed to refer witnesses to statements and documents that are not consistent with their testimony.
“The one thing a witness leader should never do in his questioning is to deliberately fail to pose relevant questions to a witness,” Hofmeyr said.
Memela testified again Wednesday that she did not have the power to influence the tender processes at the time. This is also why she did not foresee any problems with the fact that she communicated with AAR and JM Aviation during the tender process.
According to the tender rules, communication between SAAT bidders and employees is prohibited in the tender process. Memela was always reluctant to answer questions about whether she felt the right tender process had been followed.
“As head of procurement, I would expect you to know how the procurement processes work and what the critical requirements are for the tenders,” Zondo said.
Memela claims her role was limited.
She also denies being involved in the negotiation process between AAR / JM Aviation and SAAT, resulting from a contract that harmed SAAT. She entrusted the entire process to her subordinate colleague, Memela claims.