‘Looting R6bn from state is not enough’ — Ajay Gupta

Ajay Gupta said that the looting of R6-billion from the national fiscus was not enough, then threatened to kill Mcebisi Jonas if he declined to work with him, the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture heard on Friday.

Jonas’s bombshell revelations were outlined on the third day of the highly anticipated state capture inquiry, which is headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

The former deputy minister of finance alleged that in October 2015, the Gupta family offered him a promotion and a bribe of R600-million — two months before then-finance minister Nhlanhla Nene was removed from office.

In a statement released in March 2016 Jonas said he rejected the offer out of hand.

“The basis of my rejection of their offer is that it makes a mockery of our hard earned democracy, the trust of our people and no one apart from the President of the Republic appoints ministers,” he said.

Ajay Gupta has denied the claim that he offered Jonas the promotion and the money.

Jonas’s tenure in the treasury ended in 2017 when he was sacked by then president Jacob Zuma.

In his testimony on Friday, Jonas said that he was invited to attend a meeting at the Gupta residence on October 23 2015 by the former president’s son Duduzani Zuma. The meeting was also attended by controversial businessman Fana Hlongwane, though both Zuma and Hlongwane sat quietly during the course of the meeting, Jonas said.

When Ajay Gupta entered the room, he did not introduce himself to Jonas and instead sat down and spoke to him about their enterprise. Jonas said he had never met Gupta, though he recognised him from media reports. He said he cannot rule out that the man he met was actually Rajesh Gupta.

“He spoke like a radio,” Jonas said.

Jonas said he was told by Gupta that the family makes R6-billion from the national fiscus and that treasury — including Nene — was in the way of them making even more. Gupta said he had made Duduzani Zuma a billionaire, Jonas said.

This was when Jonas was offered Nene’s job, though, he says, he declined the offer outright. He was also offered R600 000 in cash then and there, he said.

Jonas testified that Ajay Gupta told him that the family was “in control of everything” and that he had gathered intelligence on Jonas that could be used to end his political career.

Before leaving, Gupta threatened his life if he failed to agree to work with them, Jonas said.

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Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She covers topics relating to labour, corruption and the law.
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