Motlanthe's partner 'linked to helicopter deal'

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe’s partner Gugu Mtshali has allegedly been linked to a scheme to “buy” government approval for a plan to sell helicopters to Iran, according to a report by the Sunday Times.

Mtshali, former De Beers executive Raisaka Masebelanga and others allegedly met with representatives of 360 Aviation to solicit a bribe of R104-million.

This was in an attempt to secure a R2-billion deal to allow a “front” company to supply US-made Bell helicopters and spare parts to the National Iranian Oil Company via South Africa, the newspaper reported.

Managing director of 360 Aviation Barry Oberholzer said: “We believe we were being asked [for] a bribe ... in exchange for [government] support”.

Motlanthe said he was unaware that Mtshali had any connection to the company.

Thabo Masebe, his spokesperson, said: “He has at no stage discussed such a matter with any person, including the department of trade and industry”.

Mtshali told the newspaper that she had never attended a “formal meeting” with 360 Aviation.

However, the Sunday Times claimed to have an audio recording of the meeting, on which Mtshali’s voice was allegedly heard.

The alleged deal reportedly failed because 360 Aviation could not reach an agreement with the National Iranian Oil Company.

The United States, which manufactures the Bell helicopters, prohibits the sale of military equipment to Iran. - Sapa

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