Guptas threaten legal action against Mentor over Facebook comments

Family and friends: Ajay and Atul Gupta (seated) with President Jacob Zuma's son,Duduzane Zuma (back left). Photo: Gallo Images/City Press/Muntu Vilakazi

Family and friends: Ajay and Atul Gupta (seated) with President Jacob Zuma's son,Duduzane Zuma (back left). Photo: Gallo Images/City Press/Muntu Vilakazi

The Gupta family on Tuesday challenged Former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor to file an affidavit stating under oath that she was offered a ministerial position by the family in exchange for benefits.

The family said there had never been a meeting between them and Mentor where Mentor was offered a top job, as she allegedly claimed in a comment on Facebook this week.

The family also said because the allegations were false, publishing them would be deemed defamatory and that it would be taking legal action.

On Monday night Mentor allegedly said in a comment on a Facebook post that she had been offered a job by the family.

She wrote: “But they had previously asked me to become Minister of Public Enterprises when Barbara Hogan got the chop, provided that I would drop the SAA flight-route to India and give to them. I refused and so I was never made a Minister. The President was in another room when they offered me this in Saxonworld. [sic]” 

The Mail & Guardian has been unable to verify independently whether Mentor did in fact make these statements. 

Her post was in response to another Facebook post by DA member and former Cope spokesperson, Johann Abrie who had published a cartoon of the presidential seal with the face of one of the Gupta brothers.

“Facebook is not the appropriate forum to air such a complaint, and we can only assume it is an attempt to gain personal profile and media attention. We challenge Vytjie Mentor to file an affidavit,” a Gupta family spokesperson said in a statement. 

“South Africa has a robust constitution and a strict process governing appointment of Ministers and Deputy Ministers. We have every faith that if anybody tried to abuse power around appointments, they would be rebuffed by our constitution and our strong political leadership.” 

Zuma has ‘no recollection’ of Mentor
The Presidency would not be drawn on claims allegedly made by Mentor that she had been offered a top ministerial position by the Gupta family.

“President Jacob Zuma has no recollection of Ms Mentor. He is therefore unable to comment on any alleged incident in her career,” said presidency spokesperson Bongani Majola.

UPDATE: The Presidency late last night issued a statement reiterating this sentiment, and dwelling on the semantics of related media reports.  

“By stating that Mentor ‘accompanied’ President Zuma on a State Visit to India, the media gives the public an incorrect impression of a status similar to that of Ministers or Deputy Ministers who receive direct formal invitations from the President to accompany him on State Visits, and who then join him on all official engagements during the visit as members of the official delegation,” it said.

The Presidency reiterated that the President “does not remember Mentor and is “not aware” of the events she claimed on social media.

Mentor, who is currently on holiday in Thailand, referred News24 reporters via a Facebook post to ask Parliament for comment on the matter.  - News24 (Edited by Michelle Solomon and Thalia Holmes)

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