My advisor should not have gone on Gupta paid India trip – Gigaba
Share this article:
Johannesburg - Former Public Enterprise Minister Malusi Gigaba has told the Zondo Commission that, in hindsight, he should not have allowed his advisor Siyabonga Mahlangu to go on holiday in India with Tony Gupta and Duduzane Zuma.
He has also denied he met ex-Denel CEO Riaz Saloojee at the Gupta residence and asked him to “take care of his friends” should any need arise.
Gigaba returned to the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture to continue his evidence on Transnet-related contracts and issues while he was the Minister of Public Enterprises.
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo questioned how Mahlangu was allowed to visit India for a week on a trip at the expense of Tony Gupta in early 2011.
“Do you not find it strange that someone who just started a new job didn’t get approval from the minister who he works closely with to go on such a trip?” Zondo queried.
Gigaba agreed that it was strange and, looking back, he should have replied to Mahlangu’s email to put a stop to his trip.
Mahlangu sent an email from his private account to Gigaba, notifying him that this private trip had “great political value” and asked for leave. In the same email, he advised Gigaba to tell then-president Jacob Zuma and “key aides” about Siyabonga Gama’s likely return to Transnet. Gigaba said he had not replied to the email as he did not see it until Mahlangu was already on the trip. Gigaba told the commission that he did not know, until now, that former president Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane, was also on the trip.
Gigaba maintained that he only met the Gupta family during social and religious events at their home and was not one of their associates, as had been claimed in the commission.
However, evidence leader advocate Anton Myburgh said that Saloojee told the commission that he was first introduced to Gigaba at the Gupta compound.
Gigaba denied this meeting ever happened. He said it was a possibility that Saloojee may have been confused or had a warped memory since the meeting allegedly happened in 2012 which was a while ago.
Earlier, the commission heard Transnet-related evidence from its former chief financial officer, Anoj Singh.
The commission heard how the Gupta enterprise pocketed about 85% of the total estimated R49 billion of state funds via dodgy deals at Transnet.
Singh was CFO of Transnet at the time, but told Zondo that he had no knowledge of the Guptas’ looting of the state.
Zondo called on Singh to explain how the Guptas were able to make away with billions of rand under his watch at the parastatal.
“Either you were party to their agenda or you were so incompetent that you couldn’t see all of this. There may be another scenario, but I can’t think of anything else,” Zondo said.
He also stunned the commission when he said that the highly irregular contract for the procurement of 1 064 locomotives – that set the scene for the greatest Gupta looting – was “quite a significant achievement” in South African history.
“I think it was quite a significant achievement for Transnet to acquire 1 064 locos in the time that it did. I think it’s probably quite significant in South Africa, if not globally.
“I mean you don’t have a company that orders 1 100 locomotives at any given time,” Singh said.
But Zondo intercepted to ask Singh to clarify his statement. “Do you think people will remember that more than the corruption?
“That’s the first thing that comes to people’s minds when we talk about those transactions – the corruption,” Zondo said.
Myburgh added that the cash-flow evidence showed Salim Essa earned 50% in all fees paid to Regiments Capital by consulting firm McKinsey from contracts awarded by Transnet.
“Just so that the public understands this. You were relying on the advice of an organisation (Regiments); it was paying 50c for every rand to Mr Essa.
“I mean, do you understand how radical that is?” Myburgh said.
Singh said he had no idea Essa was earning this kickback or that Essa was involved in the procurement of locomotives.