News: Aviation School owned by the First Black Female Commercial Pilot in South Africa shut down


Dreams of flying came crashing down as a black-owned Gauteng aviation school shut its doors, leaving dozens of students high and dry.

The African College of Aviation, founded by Asnath Mahapa, the first black female commercial pilot in South Africa, shut down while owing students thousands of rands.

Mahapa’s partner and former Eskom boss Brian Molefe cut ties with the school last year, leaving with his two Cessna aircraft, which the school used to train pilots.

Mahapa admitted yesterday that she owed students money, but blamed the Department of Transport’s Transport Education Training Authority (Teta) for failing to pay R2.5-million in fees for about 20 students it sponsored.

“I do owe the students as a consequence of the nonpayment by government as I had a contract with them to train the students,” she said.

Mahapa said Teta had not honoured the contract. “Since signing the contract, Teta has not paid for accommodation and the extra flights that the students have done, it only appeared towards the end of last year that this is a big problem,” she said.

Mahapa said Molefe, who backed her financially, left due to “money no longer coming in” as Teta reneged on the agreement. She said Molefe was “more of a silent partner.”
Molefe said yesterday he was only involved in an “advisory” role at the school.

He said he left the school because he had “a lot on my plate at the time”. He denied that he owned the two planes but refused to divulge who owned them, saying it was “confidential”.

When Sowetan visited the school at the Rand Airport in Germiston yesterday, the offices were locked and empty.

The school’s branded aircraft were gathering dust in one of the hangars.

One of the students, Kelebogile Mabote, 35, joined the school in June after paying R20000 but had only amassed one hour of flying.

“Even the study material I received was incomplete, every time I wanted to book a flight they told me they don’t have aircraft,” she said.

Mabote said it was disappointing that Mahapa was ignoring her calls and messages about the R18000 the school still owed her.

Humphreys Shumba from Malawi also worked at the school as a flight operator, while trying to complete a commercial pilot’s licence.

“As there is no school anymore, if they can give me back my R15000 I’d be happy.”
Mahapa said she was forced to haul Teta before court in an effort to recover what she was owed.

When asked why she had not been communicating with her students, Mahapa said: “I don’t actually have answers for them.”

Teta had not responded to Sowetan’s questions at the time of going to print.


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One comment

  • Denis Sassou Nguesso

    So, in South Africa also, government departments act like in a banana republic reneging on agreements for services they have consumed?
    I though that the happened only in a failed state like the Republic of Congo where our president bsleeps with his ministers, their wives/husbands, MPs be they men or women, Senators be they men or women.
    He has siphoned all the taxpayer’s money; all the state coffers are empty because he has taken $US1million of ourv state’s money and gone to hide it in a Chinese bank. Since the Congo Brazzaville’s state can’s afford to pay salaries, pensions and schoolarships, he’s tried to go and bring back the money. The Chinese bank has refused to release the money, on the ground that all what bthe Chinese state-owned companies have built was on credit. The $US14million hare now used as a guarantee.
    From that moment, if it were you, what would you say or do?
    Brazaville Congolese have only their eyes to shed teaars. Now you understand why we’ve even lost our voices; because we’ve been crying, mourning, screaming; China is too far for their government to hear our voices.
    Here’s why any African country should think twice before tdaing be it with Congo Brazzaville, with China or even with these fake companies like Mahapa’s school.

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