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Cwele denies halting Gupta investigations

South Africa Ambassador to China, Siyabonga Cwele. File photo: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

South Africa Ambassador to China, Siyabonga Cwele. File photo: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jun 29, 2021

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Former State Security minister Siyabonga Cwele has denied the allegations that he stopped an investigation into the Gupta’s in 2011.

Now appointed as the South Africa Ambassador to China, Cwele gave testimony virtually on Tuesday.

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In response to allegations made against him by former State Security boss Gibson Njenje, he said he merely instructed the three State Security Agency (SSA) seniors who had initiated a communications interception into the Guptas to first obtain approval from a judge.

“At no stage did I say they must stop the investigation,” Cwele said.

The Commission previously heard from former intelligence officials Njenje and Mo Shaik of how the two had spearheaded the investigation into the Gupta family because of suspicions of a security threat posed by them. US authorities had asked questions about the family regarding a uranium mining deal.

There was also the issue of the family having intimate knowledge of former President Jacob Zuma’s 2010 Cabinet reshuffle. These issues raised red flags and prompted their decision to investigate the family.

Njenje corroborated Shaik’s evidence that Cwele had been against the investigation.

But, Cwele remained adamant that he never issued an instruction to stop the investigation into the family.

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He told the Commission on Tuesday, that he was disappointed that Njenje and Shaik were conducting investigations in relation to their personal interests.

“Those are the things I put in the summary. At no stage did I say they must stop the investigation. I said go and get direction from a judge,” Cwele said.

He said he requested to be furnished with a directive from the judge authorising such interception, which Njenje and Shaik did not have.

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Cwele told the Commission that the issue of preventing abuse of state resources was also one of his responsibilities that he was discharging.

According to his affidavit, Njenje also told the commission about his frustrations in contacting Zuma and explaining the importance of the investigation.

When Njenje and Shaik met with Zuma, they were told the investigation was not a good idea.

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Shaik shared similar sentiments and said Zuma came across as being unable to separate his role as the head of state and his relationship with the Guptas.

The Inquiry continues.

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