IN OUTA'S SIGHTS: Faith Muthambi
IN OUTA'S SIGHTS: Faith Muthambi

Muthambi faces treason charges over Guptas

By Khaya Koko And Khanyisile Mgcobo Time of article published Jul 18, 2017

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Faith Muthambi is the first of many ministers to have treason charges laid against her for being allegedly “captured” by the controversial Gupta family.

She is accused of leaking confidential information to them.

This was the assertion made by Dominique Msibi, the special projects director at civil group Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa).

Msibi spoke to The Star shortly after Outa laid treason charges against Muthambi in Monday at Brixton police station in Joburg. According to the organisation, she had deliberately shared confidential cabinet memoranda, allegedly via emails sent to Tony Gupta; Duduzane Zuma, the president's son; and IT company Sahara chief executive Ashu Chawla.

Outa further alleges that Muthambi, in her former role as the minister of communications, “plunged” the SABC into billions of rand of debt by unlawfully appointing the public broadcaster’s former chief operations officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, despite the findings of former public protector Thuli Madonsela that Motsoeneng had abused his power at the SABC.

Msibi emphasised that Muthambi, who is currently Minister of Public Service and Administration, was not being singled out by her organisation, saying Outa could only lay charges one at a time.

“We don’t do it randomly. We do it as we gain strong evidence against a person implicated. So a person we have strong evidence against will be the next person in line,” she promised.

Asked why the civil group chose treason charges specifically, Msibi asserted: “Sharing confidential cabinet memoranda and other state communication is basically compromising the security of the state. It's not a light charge; it's not something we do lightly. It's putting the state itself at risk, as opposed to stealing money.”

Outa’s bone of contention lay with a supposed series of emails the minister sent to Tony Gupta, in which she is alleged to have written: “These sections must be transferred to the minister of communications.”

Outa claims that these “sections” refers to an apparently attached document describing certain statutory provisions that the former communications minister wanted transferred to her portfolio from the Department of Postal Services and Telecommunications.

“In the emails, the word 'must' creeps in, begging the question: who is actually in charge, the Guptas or the president?” Outa asked in a statement.

Meanwhile, Msibi added that Outa had done its homework extensively, and deduced that a treason charge was justifiable to lay against Muthambi.

“It's not just the treason charges against Muthambi; she ratified the appointment of Motsoeneng and we know what financial damage and reputational damage has been done to the SABC under his tenure,” she explained.

Asked which minister would be the next to be charged, Msibi said: “We’re focusing on Muthambi right now. However, our investigation continues. Remember, we also investigate on our side to make sure we have enough to lay charges (before proceeding). While Muthambi’s charges have been laid, there are others we’re preparing for.”

On whether Outa was considering charging the Guptas, she said: “I wouldn’t rule it out, there’s enough evidence but we’ll take it as we compile our cases and investigate.”

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