OUSTED former president Jacob Zuma’s lawyer Daniel Mantsha insisted yesterday, that he never supported the controversial Gupta family during his tenure as chairperson of the state-owned aerospace and military technology company.
Mantsha told the commission of inquiry into state capture that he had nothing to do with Denel’s dealings with Gupta-owned VR Laser.
He described VR Laser shareholder and controversial Gupta fixer Salim Essa as a friendly guy and a friend of former Denel chief executive Riaz Saloojee.
He insisted that there was a cordial relationship between the two and they had a long relationship.
Mantsha said Saloojee helped Essa to acquire the VR Laser business and that the two got along very well.
He said he never suspected anything about the establishment of the joint venture with Denel to set up Denel Asia.
According to Mantsha, Saloojee was approached by the Guptas to accept money – a bribe.
”It is my concern irrespective of anyone for officials of public entities to accept bribes,” Mantsha said.
He continued: ”If that happened, of course I’m concerned”.
Mantsha said there was no situation under his board where that situation happened under his leadership.
”Never!” he insisted to commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
Mantsha also distanced himself from Denel Asia, claiming he was not at the inquiry to speculate about what other witnesses have told Justice Zondo.
”I’m completely against it,” he said.
Mantsha said the controversial Gupta family must be given the benefit of the doubt other than to speculate.
He said Saloojee’s alleged bribe attempt from the Guptas was never reported to him.
Saloojee, Mantsha said, should have reported the Gupta bribe to the police even though he never reported it to him as Denel chairperson.
Mantsha admitted meeting Saloojee but maintained that it was independent of Essa.
He said he would not have tolerated such illegal activity.
Mantsha also denied receiving anything from the Guptas and that he travelled overseas at his own expense.
He said he received no benefit from the Guptas and only found out that their Westdawn Investments was a shareholder in VR Laser in October 2015.
Emails leaked to the media two years ago showed that another Gupta fixer Ashu Chawla was handling Mantsha’s application for a Dubai visa and was booked a business class ticket from Dubai to Joburg costing over R33 000.