Mo Rieaz Shaik appears before the commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture. Picture: Dimpho Maja/African News Agency(ANA)

Johannesburg - Former intelligence boss Mo Rieaz Shaik says former state security minister Siyabonga Cwele was determined to stop an intelligence investigation into the Gupta family.   

The former intelligence boss, who headed the foreign branch, took the stand at the inquiry on Monday and said Cwele would not listen to reason on the possible questions and basis for investigating the family.

He detailed a 2011 meeting with Cwele where he along with his intelligence colleagues fought to prove that the investigation was necessary. The three intelligence officials, Gibson Njenje and Jeff Maqetuka, had decided to pursue an investigation into the Gupta family.

Shaik said several factors motivated for the investigation. The first was the call from US intelligence services and concerns from the then US ambassador to SA about the Gupta’s involvement in the purchase of a uranium mine. 

The Americans were worried that the Iranian government may be involved in funding the project. Shaik, Njenje and Maqetuka were also concerned about national security-focused on allegations the Gupta’s intimate knowledge of former president Jacob Zuma’s 2010 cabinet reshuffle.

Shaik said another concern were reports around Mbalula declaring in an ANC NEC meeting that he had been called by one of the Gupta brothers and informed that he would be appointed as minister of sports.

He said this revelation was a concern around the president and possible infiltration of foreign individuals in the workings of the state.

"Our concern was maybe there was a breach of security in the office of the president. Or that the Guptas overheard a conversation at the office of the president. All these matters fall into the issues of intelligence. And a concern of a breach at the highest level of the government,” he said.

Shaik said after debating, it was decided that the Guptas would be investigated. He said shortly after Cwele called him, Njenje and Maqetuka to fly down to Cape Town. Cwele spent the meeting instructing the group to stop the investigation. Shaik said Cwele refused to listen to reason.

"The minister was having none of it. We could not find each other. The minister made this matter incredibly personal. He argued that the reason why we wanted to further this investigation was to advance the interests of Mr Njenje. I denied that and we all did. We tried to explain, but the minister did not listen. It seemed to me that the minister did not want this investigation to happen. The meeting was incredibly tense."

“I got the sense that he didn’t believe the allegation (by Mbalula). We took the matter as something worth investigating. It did turn out true,” he said.

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