Denel gives Supra’s son R1m pi­lot bur­sary

CityPress - - News - ERIKA GIB­SON news@city­

Denel – the state-owned de­fence com­pany which had to bor­row money to pay salaries at the end of last year – has bent the rules to give a R1.1 mil­lion bur­sary to the son of North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo, so he can be­come a pi­lot.

Rap­port, City Press’ sis­ter pub­li­ca­tion, has seen the bur­sary con­tract be­tween Supra Oara­bile Mahumapelo (20) and Denel, in which Denel un­der­takes to pay for his flight lessons, ac­com­mo­da­tion, meals and even his laun­dry.

When con­tacted for com­ment, Denel said in a state­ment that the bur­sary was or­di­nary and that it would con­trib­ute to the trans­for­ma­tion of the avi­a­tion in­dus­try.

But, just hours later, it for­warded com­mu­ni­ca­tion in which Public En­ter­prises Min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han or­dered it to re­tract the ini­tial state­ment.

Gord­han told Rap­port that the al­le­ga­tions were so se­ri­ous and Denel’s con­duct so ques­tion­able that he had im­me­di­ately or­dered the newly ap­pointed board to be­gin an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

This news comes as an in­creas­ingly em­bat­tled Mahumapelo faces a vote of no con­fi­dence in the North West leg­is­la­ture on Tues­day.

Trade union Sol­i­dar­ity raised the alarm about the bur­sary in a let­ter to the new chair­per­son of the Denel board Monhla Hlahla, who was ap­pointed this week.

The union’s mem­bers who work at Denel protested against a bur­sary be­ing awarded to Mahumapelo, but those com­plaints fell on deaf ears.

Zwe­lakhe Nt­shepe, Denel’s CEO, per­son­ally signed the con­tract.

Mahumapelo ju­nior ap­plied for his bur­sary only af­ter the fi­nal dead­line of Oc­to­ber 2016, but his ap­pli­ca­tion was ap­proved nev­er­the­less.

It was signed on Jan­uary 31 2017. Denel’s bur­sary pro­gramme is for fi­nance, busi­ness man­age­ment, IT and en­gi­neer­ing, but Mahumapelo ju­nior was able to study in a new direc­tion.

Denel has a list of ac­cred­ited in­sti­tu­tions, but the pres­ti­gious Port Al­fred flight school, where Mahumapelo ju­nior is now train­ing to be a pi­lot, is not on the list.

The course he is fol­low­ing is aimed at stu­dents who have no pre­vi­ous flight train­ing and who, af­ter 17 months of in­ten­sive train­ing, will be qual­i­fied to fly pas­sen­ger air­lin­ers.

In Denel’s orig­i­nal re­sponse to Rap­port, which it has now had to re­tract, it says three stu­dents from three prov­inces were given the op­por­tu­nity to re­ceive bur­saries to be­come pi­lots. It doesn’t name the other two.

Denel said it was the first time such bur­saries were ap­proved, but the de­ci­sions were taken in line with its strat­egy to de­velop a small re­gional air­liner.

The rookie pi­lots could then be used as test pi­lots for the am­bi­tious project, which ex­ists only on pa­per and in the form of a life-size model of the planned air­craft.

A source in­side Denel, who is fa­mil­iar with air­craft test­ing, said it was ab­surd to think that a novice pi­lot could be used for such spe­cialised work.

Ac­cord­ing to the con­tract, Denel doesn’t prom­ise Mahumapelo a job, and he is obliged to work for Denel only if they ac­tu­ally have a job for him.

The premier’s spokesper­son, Brian Setswambung, said Mahumapelo’s of­fice had no say over how Denel awarded its bur­saries and re­ferred all queries to Denel.

Denel’s Nt­shepe had pre­vi­ously been linked to the Gupta fam­ily.

He signed the con­tract for the aborted VR Laser part­ner­ship be­tween Denel and the Gup­tas.

This week, Mahumapelo faces a mo­tion of no con­fi­dence brought by the Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers in North West as a re­sult of his al­leged in­volve­ment with Gupta-linked health­care com­pany Me­diosa.

This mo­bile clinic ser­vice re­ceived R30 mil­lion from the prov­ince as an ad­vance, be­fore it had done any work in the prov­ince.

The Hawks have raided Mahumapelo’s of­fice as part of their in­ves­ti­ga­tion into an­other con­tro­ver­sial project, for com­puter com­pany Nepo Data Dy­nam­ics.

The com­pany al­legedly re­ceived

R215 mil­lion for ser­vices that were not worth the money spent on them.

ANC Youth League leader Collen Maine dropped a bomb this week when he said it was Mahumapelo who in­tro­duced him to the Gup­tas.


Do you think Supra ju­nior de­serves a bur­sary if his fa­ther earns more than R2 mil­lion a year from the state?

SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word SUPRA and tell us what you think. Please in­clude your name and prov­ince. SMSes cost R1.50


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