Pretoria - Former finance minister Trevor Manuel is a step closer to hopefully getting answers as to who allegedly unlawfully obtained and disclosed personal information on him.
The Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, ordered that representatives of Gupta-owned company Sahara Computers and its former chief executive director, Ashu Chawla, had to avail themselves to deliver oral evidence in court on whether they have, or ever had, any records in their possession regarding personal information and surveillance of Manuel and his wife Maria Ramos.
They must also subject themselves to cross-examination in this regard, Judge Sharise Weiner ordered.
Manuel turned to court to obtain answers, as both Chawla and Sahara denied that they had any records in their possession containing Manuels’ personal information.
The judge ordered that a date had to be arranged with the Registrar of the court for the hearing of the oral evidence.
Manuel applied for access to this information in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA).
He told the court that he believed that his personal information had been unlawfully obtained and disclosed and that he has been subjected to unlawful surveillance.
This belief arose from a newspaper report titled “ #GuptaLeaks: Guptas spied on Manuel, Malema and bank bosses.”
It was, among others, claimed in the report that emails and documents revealed that the Gupta family spied on various prominent South Africans, including Manuel and Ramos.
It was also claimed that Chawla was at the centre of these emails and that he had authorised an Excel spreadsheet setting out detailed information regarding flights which Manuel and Ramos had taken.
It was further claimed that emails and documents revealed that Chawla was in communication with moles within the Department of Home Affairs, who emailed Manuel’s CV to Tony Gupta. It was apparently also forwarded by Chawla to an advisor of former home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba.
Manuel said it was not clear who was responsible for this unlawful conduct. He thus requested access to certain records to shed more light on this to protect his right to privacy.
Both Sahara and Chawla denied him access to their records and Manuel at first asked the court to set aside these refusals. He, however, later changed his application and asked the court that these parties be called to the witness stand to answer questions on these issues.
Both respondents told the court that these records sought by Manuel do not exist and if it did, they did not have it.
Manuel in turn said while he cannot for a fact say they have these records, he felt they were hiding something and lacked candour. He thus wanted them to be questioned in court on these issues.