Inquiry hears Hlaudi visited Gupta compound several times, 'enjoyed curry'
Johannesburg - Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the former chief operations officer at the SABC, told the Zondo commission that he had visited the controversial Gupta family compound in Saxonwold numerous times.
Motsoeneng did not hold back on his testimony at the inquiry on Tuesday. The former SABC boss said he enjoyed curry along with former SABC CEO Lulama Mokhobo.
Mokhobo had testified that Motsoeneng had ambushed her to go and meet the Guptas at their home in Saxonwold. She said that she was not aware where they were going and Motsoeneng refused to disclose, but she decided to go with him anyway.
Mokhobo said it was only when they arrived at the house that she knew where they were. She said Motsoeneng told her that these people, the Guptas, wanted to congratulate her on her appointment in 2012.
"We arrived at this massive house with ‘Sahara Computers’ written on the wall. He (Motsoeneng) said we are here because these people want to congratulate you. So I went in together with Hlaudi, my phone and everyone’s phones were taken and we were taken into a dining area and the people present proceeded to congratulate me. I seem to recall there was Ajay Gupta, Atul Gupta and Duduzane Zuma and Ace Magashule’s son,” Mokhobo had previously told the commission.
“They congratulated me and promptly told me that they would have liked to play a role in SABC’s DTT future because they were interested in creating a news channel. They hoped that I would allow them to gain access to a channel. I explained to them that I do not think it would be easy to just give away a channel and bidding processes would have to be followed. There was nothing further to discuss, I wasn’t there long."
Motsoeneng denied that he had ambushed Mokhobo into the meeting and said the former CEO was well aware of where they were going as they had discussed the issue the day before.
He explained he felt it was important that they meet with the Guptas as part of compliance.
“We enjoyed curry there,” Motsoeneng said.
“I went to her a day before that day and I did not just walk into her office. They (Guptas) made a business proposal like any business people would,” he said. “They said because we are going to migrate they wish the get a channel as part of the plan, which there is nothing wrong.
“The concern is that when you talk about the Guptas these days people do not want to hear anything. We have met the Guptas and we have engaged them, chairperson,” he said.
“In my view, I was trying to capture the private sector.”
Motsoeneng will return to the stand on Wednesday.