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The High Court in Pretoria has heard how former South African Airways (SAA) chair Dudu Myeni played hooky from a high-profile meeting with “two of the most important persons in the civil aviation world on a global basis”. SAA’s former chief commercial officer Sylvain Bosc yesterday took the stand in Myeni’s delinquent director case. Bosc, a French national, was suspended from his position in 2015 following a forensic investigation by law firm ENSafrica, which found he had misled the board and Treasury. He was subject to a disciplinary hearing and the following year found not guilty. Former chief executive Nico...
The High Court in Pretoria has heard how former South African Airways (SAA) chair Dudu Myeni played hooky from a high-profile meeting with “two of the most important persons in the civil aviation world on a global basis”.

SAA’s former chief commercial officer Sylvain Bosc yesterday took the stand in Myeni’s delinquent director case.

Bosc, a French national, was suspended from his position in 2015 following a forensic investigation by law firm ENSafrica, which found he had misled the board and Treasury. He was subject to a disciplinary hearing and the following year found not guilty.

Former chief executive Nico Bezuidenhout last week testified that Myeni had told him to suspend Bosc because there were “too many French people” in the company.

Bosc’s evidence in court yesterday kicked off with more details about the now infamous Emirates airline deal.

In 2015, Emirates proposed a lucrative deal which would have boosted SAA’s connectivity and provided the now bankrupt airline with an annual revenue guarantee of $100 million (R1.477 billion).

Myeni has been accused of having scuppered the deal at the 11th hour.

Bosc yesterday told the court that after SAA received Emirates’ proposal, Myeni requested a meeting with her counterpart at Emirates, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al Maktoum.

He and Bezuidenhout duly arranged the meeting, with Emirates chief executive Tim Clark to be in attendance too.

“It’s not very easy to have them both dedicate a full day of their time to any subject so we were very, very excited,” Bosc said.

The day before they were due to travel to Dubai for the meeting, Myeni pulled out.

“The acting CEO called me in and told me: ‘We have a problem. The chairperson does not want to go and she wants us to say she’s sick and therefore she cannot make it,’” Bosc said.

He described this “a big setback and an embarrassment”.

Of the deal, Bosc said: “It was going to be very good for SAA to be seen in the eyes of the whole world as the partner to Emirates. That was a chance for SAA to be associated with one of the single most powerful brands in the world.”

Myeni served as the chair of SAA’s board for five years, during which time the state carrier suffered massive financial losses.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) and the SAA Pilots’ Association (Saapa) are asking the court to declare Myeni a delinquent director.

If they succeed, Myeni will be barred from sitting on any boards for at least seven years.

The lawyers acting for Outa and Saapa have suggested they will be asking the court to institute a lifelong ban in Myeni’s case.

bernadettew@citizen.co.za

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