Gupta brother told me he was leading State visit to China, claims #VytjieMentor
Johannesburg - Former African National Congress (ANC) MP Vytjie Mentor on Monday told the commission of inquiry into State capture that she first met Duduzane Zuma on an Emirates first class flight to China via Dubai, for an official visit in 2010, paid for by Transnet.
Mentor was the chairperson of Parliament's public enterprises committee at the time. Mentor said she recognised Zuma from media reports. He told her he wanted to introduce her to a gentleman.
"He came and knocked at my cubicle, and introduced himself as Duduzane Zuma, he then introduced another person, Fana Hlongwane. He said to me 'let me introduce you to my chairman'," she said.
She added that Rajesh Gupta was also on the same flight. Mentor admitted that she had a problem with differentiating the other Gupta brothers, Ajay and Atul. She said she differentiated them through their physique. She also confused Brian Hlongwa and businessman Fana Hlongwane in her book. Hlongwa is ANC chief whip in Gauteng legislature.
''In my book [No Holy Cows - Moments in My Political Life 2002-2017], I mistakenly stated that Duduzane Zuma introduced me to Brian Hlongwa, but it was Fana Hlongwane. I always confused the two,'' she told the commission sitting in Johannesburg.
On arrival in China, Mentor said she realised that the three Gupta brothers were in charge at the meeting hall. Everyone had one or two accreditation tags around their necks, but the Gupta brothers had three each, she said.
''They were all over and wore three tags that gave them a very officiated, important role. They would, from time to time, liaise with [Trade and Industry Minister Rob] Davies, and he would defer back to them.'' One of the Gupta brothers later told her that they were leading the SA team to China.
She said she was hurt after realising she was being sidelined in the hall during a consultation meeting.
''I had worked closely with Davis and Maite Nkoana-Mashabane [now Rural Development and Land Reform Minister] and had travelled with her to Tunisia...but the reception I received in that hall was extremely cold and unnerving. People were allowed to raise hands and raise questions. I was left with hand high the whole time without being recognised,'' she said.
She then retired to her hotel room and later received a call on the hotel line from one of the Gupta brothers. The man on the other line told her he had been instructed by Zuma to fetch her to a meeting with the former president to a meeting at China state house.
''I asked him how he knew which hotel I was put up in and whether he was South African. He kept telling me he was leading the SA advanced team, and later became agitated and said he was going to inform the president that I was refusing to come...and he did.''
She said she had been trying to meet with Zuma on South African soil, but that ''Zuma acted strange''.
''I was not gonna meet him on foreign soil as a woman, and driven around by foreigners. I feared for my safety and decided to return home.''
Prior to her China trip, Mentor said her committee was worried about power outages and had had consecutive meetings with Eskom officials. She added that one Chinese state enterprise (SOE) was also part of the meetings.
''The China SOE was also part of the meeting, the same SOE had contacted me alerting me about the state visit to China,'' she told the commission.
African News Agency/ANA