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Here’s what happened at the Zondo Commission this week

Former Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete said she once ignored a tip-off from a whistleblower regarding the Arms Deal because Parliament was too busy to entertain unauthored letters. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA).

Former Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete said she once ignored a tip-off from a whistleblower regarding the Arms Deal because Parliament was too busy to entertain unauthored letters. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA).

Published May 22, 2021

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Explosive evidence, security threats and a scorned couple’s battle: here’s what you missed at the State Capture Inquiry this week:

Security threat at the Commission

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The State Capture Commission was suddenly adjourned on Thursday evening after Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo was informed of a serious security threat.

Evidence-leader Advocate Anton Myburgh suddenly stopped proceedings and told the Commission that he had just been informed about a serious security threat which was “a protector-related issue”.

The Commission was forced to adjourn until Friday.

Before proceedings were brought to a sudden halt, Malusi Gigaba’s estranged wife Norma Mngoma was giving explosive evidence about her husband’s relationship with the Gupta family.

The Gigabas

Mngoma never faltered in her testimony when she told the Zondo Commission how her husband shared a close and friendly relationship with the Gupta family, specifically Ajay Gupta.

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She made shocking claims that Gigaba used money, allegedly given to him by the Guptas, to fund his lavish lifestyle, support his father and bailed his sister out of crippling debt.

But, Gigaba - who submitted a replying affidavit and appeared shortly after Mngoma - claimed all the allegations were fabricated and were an extension of Mngoma’s “creative imagination”. He denied most of Mngoma’s testimony and told the Commission that his estranged wife was part of a scheme to destroy his political career.

Geoffrey Makhubo

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City of Johannesburg Mayor Geoff Makhubo denied that his friend and former business partner, Patrick Makubedu made a number of donations to the ANC in a bid to influence his chances at winning IT tenders in the city.

Makhubo testified at the Zondo Commission regarding cash flow and transactions during his tenure as Treasurer of the Greater Johannesburg Region of the ANC and as finance manager at the city of Johannesburg.

The Commission heard that Makubedu - a director at IT service management company EOH - made a number of donations to the ANC and also made several transactions from his personal business to bail out Makhubo’s cash-strapped business.

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The Commission then heard evidence that after donating and assisting Makhubo and the ANC with funding, Makubedu then emailed Makhubo with a networking proposal related to a tender at the City of Johannesburg.

Despite no emailed response from Makhubo, his close friend Makubedu sent a second email with an invoice of over R1.6 million from TSS, a subsidiary of EOH attached. A few days later, a third email sent from Makubedu to Makhubo contained a blank letter of appointment allegedly drafted by Makubedu.

The evidence-leader said the timing of EOH’s donations and the tender discussions were suspicious. However, Makhubo told the Commission that he was merely fundraising for the ANC and for him, it was clear that the transactions were only a donation to the party.

Former Eskom head of generation Matshela Koko again accused the Commission of not only fuelling a “Koko hunt” but also coaching witnesses to follow suit. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)

Matshela Koko

Former Eskom CEO Matshela Koko told the State Capture commission that Eskom was willing to pay more for coal but when Optimum Coal Mine was informed, it “kicked them in their face”.

Koko explained on Wednesday that Optimum initially wanted to increase prices to R285 per tonne for coal but the Eskom board had already approved a price increase of up to R296 per tonne.

He said Optimum Coal Mine then demanded a higher price and when it was rejected, it filed for business rescue.

He again accused the Commission of not only fuelling a “Koko hunt” but also coaching witnesses to follow suit.

Responding to previous testimony from two travel agents who told the Commission that Koko's international travel was billed to the account of Gupta associate Salim Essa, Koko said these travel agents were coached into saying that.

Travel Agents

Lenasia-based Travel Excellence’ agents Sameera Sooliman and Halima Allana appeared before the Commission this week. Sooliman told the Commission that not only did Gupta associate Salim Essa instruct her to arrange flights for former Eskom CEO Matshela Koko and his family to travel from Indonesia to Dubai and South Africa, but he also paid R100 000 to settle the bill.

Allana confirmed that former Minister Mosebenzi Zwane’s flight confirmation for Dubai, India and Switzerland was sent to Essa and that would’ve been done only if Essa had made the arrangements.

Cartoon: Bethuel Mangena/African News Agency (ANA)

Baleka Mbete

Former Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete said she once ignored a tip-off from a whistleblower regarding the Arms Deal because Parliament was too busy to entertain unauthored letters.

She said the note containing "scary details" about the Arms Deal was slid under her office door while she was Deputy Speaker in Parliament.

In a shocking stance, Mbete told the Zondo Commission that given the chance, she would do it again.

Mbete appeared at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture on Tuesday evening where she fielded questions regarding Parliament's oversight role during the peak State Capture years under former President Jacob Zuma’s leadership.

When questioned on why Parliament did not investigate allegations of state capture earlier on when MP's raised concerns, Mbete said that Parliament could not investigate any and all information that came to them as rumours.

State Security Agency

Two unidentified witnesses who gave evidence related to the State Security Agency revealed how money was looted from the spy agency.

The operatives detailed the extent of former State Security Minister David Mahlobo’s interference in intelligence operations and how the then director of special operations Thulani Dlomo deployed a signal jammer at the 2015 State of the Nation Address.

According to one witness, *Steven said Mahlobo also irregularly approved an operation named Project Greenleaf headed by Dlomo.

Project Greenleaf was an operation meant to spy on a number of senior officials, including Zuma, current ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile, senior SSA officials and army generals.

Political Bureau

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