PORT ALFRED - Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan wants Denel to probe a bursary given to the North West premier's son.
According to the Rapport newspaper, in 2017, the Denel CEO signed an agreement worth more than R1-million guaranteeing money for premier Supra Mahumapelo 's son to study at a Port Alfred aviation school.
This despite it not being on the list of accredited schools that the funding covers.
The news comes ahead of an imminent vote of no confidence in the the North West premier.
Rapport said Oarabile Mahumapelo missed the Denel deadline to apply for a bursary. Despite this, he was granted over R1-million to study.
To top it off, it was at an institution not approved for funding by the state-owned defence company and aviation is not on the list of authorised study fields, either.
Denel's CEO Zwelakhe Ntshepe, who was acting at the time, nevertless signed the contract in early 2017.
Rapport reporter, Erika Gibson explained:"The value of the bursary is about R1.1-million. That covers tuition fees, flying, accommodation, food and laundry, for the 17 months of the successful course."
"As far as the evidence is concerned it was confirmed by Denel that Mr Mahumapelo was one of three students, apparently, from three provinces who were awarded bursaries by Denel to go and learn to become jet pilots.
"What is interesting is the timing of the application for the bursary: the bursaries normally close, or the applications normally close toward the end of October each year, and his bursary was only awarded in January the year thereafter, which caused some unhappiness about why there would have been an exception."
When Rapport asked Denel for comment, it issued a statement saying there was nothing unusual about the bursary.
Hours later, it retracted the remark, following an instruction from Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.
He then issued a statement, saying: “I will request the new Denel board to prioritise investigating these allegations, to establish the facts, to determine whether any individuals manipulated Denel’s processes or abused the company’s resources and what corrective steps can now be taken to ensure those responsible are properly held to account.”
On Friday, trade union Solidarity flagged the deal in a letter to Denel chairperson Monhla Hlahla, saying the context is state capture.
Supra Mahumapelo's spokesperson, Brian Setswambung, deflected questions on the matter.
"The Office of the Premier is unable to comment on the matter as it is not in the business of issuing those bursaries or is not responsible for the bursaries in question. You are kindly advised to refer the matter to Denel as people responsible for issuing the bursary," Setswambung said.