Jonas grilled at #StateCaptureInquiry over contradicting statements
Johannesburg - Former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas faced a heated cross-examination at the Zondo commission as Duduzane Zuma’s lawyer attempted to poke holes in his testimony.
Jonas appeared at the commission on Friday and had to answer tough questions about possible inaccuracies in the statement he submitted to the Public Protector and then one submitted to the Zondo commission.
Advocate Piet Louw, for Duduzane Zuma, asked Jonas why he had decided to go with Duduzane Zuma to the Gupta compound in Saxonwold for a meeting while he knew nothing about.
"Did you ask Zuma what the meeting was about? You decided to leave with Zuma to a place you did not know for a purpose you did not know? And you left your protectors behind and your vehicle?" Louw asked.
Jonas responded; "I just waited for him to articulate what the meeting was about. I asked him how far, he said it is not far, it is just around the corner. I had no reason to think that there was anything funny or bad that was about to happen".
Louw also quizzed Jonas on the inaccuracies between the statement he made to former public protector Thuli Madonsela during her state capture investigation.
Jonas said he had formulated the statement in a rush with his lawyer and that the mistakes made in that statement were corrected when he compiled his statement for the Zondo commission.
Louw often used the word “lie” to describe some of the inaccuracies in Jonas’ statement.
"There were lots of contradictions in the dates at the time because it was a rushed process. I did look at it and I pointed out some of the things that were lumped together and things that could have been articulated differently. There are points one could say were incorrect," said Jonas.
Louw also asked about Jonas’ interaction with the Hawks.
The DA had laid a criminal complaint after Jonas revealed that Ajay Gupta allegedly offered him R600 000 cash and R600 million if he agreed to become finance minister. Zuma and businessman Fana Hlongwane were at the same meeting, Jonas said.
Jonas outlined that the Hawks were hostile towards him and a General Zinhle Mnonopi wanted him to sign an inaccurate statement. He said Mnonopi had told him she wants to put the matter to rest.
Louw asked about all the interactions Jonas had with Zuma, but he did not ask one question related to what had transpired inside the meeting between Zuma, Gupta, Hlongwane and Jonas.
Advocate Win Trengrove, for Jonas, used his re-examination questions to highlight the fact that Louw focused on broad questions and omitted the meeting.
Trengrove cast doubt on former Hawks boss Berning Ntlemeza’s credibility and said he had been found to have lied by the high court.
Jonas was also questioned by Advocate Philip Mokoena who asked him why he did not mention that he was threatened by Gupta in the same meeting at the family’s Saxonwold compound.
Jonas had for the first time revealed at the commission that he had been threatened with death if he spoke about the offer from Gupta. He did not mention this when he was interviewed Mandonsela.
The former minister said when he spoke to Madonsela the political climate was different and that is what prompted his non-disclosure about the threats.
"At the time, that was probably the most difficult period for us. Even the conversation with the Public Protector - we walked into the conversation, she asked us questions, I was very uncertain even about talking to her. I didn't trust anybody, I didn't trust the police, quite frankly,” said Jonas.
"When I went to the commission, I knew that it was a public thing, I have my confidence back, I can say what I want to say. Probably if reprisals come, they will come through legal mechanisms. I outlined earlier on how the Hawks treated us."
Louw confirmed that Zuma would appear at the inquiry to testify.
Hlongwane’s legal team didn't show up at the commission to cross-examine Jonas even though Hlongwane had successfully applied to do so.
The commission will on Monday start its investigation into state-owned armed manufacturer Denel.