Johannesburg - Former public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan and her late husband, struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada, first came across the controversial Gupta brothers in 2004 at a lunch invite in Cape Town.
Hogan testified before the commission of inquiry into state capture that she and Kathrada had come across the Guptas twice. The first incident was when Essop Pahad, who served as minister in the presidency during Thabo Mbeki's administration, invited the couple to lunch in Constantia in 2004.
''Kathrada as a young child spent a lot of time at Pahad's home as a youngster while attending school in Johannesburg. He [Pahad] invited us to a lunch with his friends in Constantia. Apparently, the Guptas were there, it was the first time I heard about them...we had nothing to say to them, we talked with other people and left, we didn't stay long.''
The second time was after she had left Parliament and was no longer a minister when the couple were invited by the Indian High Commission for lunch.
''Ajay Gupta arrived, but he went and sat by a table by himself, appeared to be in a filthy mood...spoke to no one and just glared at all of us.''
She continued to testify about an invite from the Indian High Commission, the UN and many other organisations to Kathrada through his foundation. The struggle stalwart and Rivonia trialist was invited to speak at schools and university students in India during commemorations of former president Nelson Mandela's birthday.
Hogan said she was shocked when she received a call from a Daily Maverick journalist investigating the Gupta emails, asking her about a trip to India ''sponsored by the Guptas. She said she went and looked up travel records and furnished them to the journalist. It emerged that Gupta lieutenant Ashu Chawla was copied in the emails on Kathrada's travel arrangement.
''Mr Kathrada was often asked to do that [give talks on Mandela's legacy] and was often requested by Mandela himself to do so. Our understanding was that this was the initiative of the high commission. We flew to India for two days and Kathrada spoke at various schools. When I looked at the travel arrangements, it was Jet Airways. In retrospect, it was Chawla who was emailed by the travel agency....but we did not know at that time.''
She said the journalist reverted to her and told her there was no story after going through Hogan and Kathrada's travel documents.
African News Agency (ANA)