Ajay denies he met Jonas

Mcebisi Jonas testifies at the state capture commission of inquiry. Ajay Gupta denies Jonas’s allegation that the Guptas threatened to kill him if he revealed he had met with them. (Deaan Vivier/Gallo)

Mcebisi Jonas testifies at the state capture commission of inquiry. Ajay Gupta denies Jonas’s allegation that the Guptas threatened to kill him if he revealed he had met with them. (Deaan Vivier/Gallo)

Gupta family patriarch Ajay has denied ever meeting with former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas, saying he has witnesses who would say he was at the Oakbay offices in Sandton when the meeting was supposed to have happened.

This is according to an affidavit — stamped September 2 2018 —submitted to the state capture commission to support Ajay Gupta’s application to cross-examine Jonas. The application was refused last week by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, the commission’s chair, because of Ajay Gupta’s unwillingness to return to South Africa to deliver his own testimony.

In the affidavit, sent to the commission from Dubai, Gupta said he had told former public protector Thuli Madonsela as much in a “superficial” interview conducted for her State of Capture report on October 4 2016.

“I also tendered my cellphone records to the public protector,” Gupta said.

But on Thursday speaking to the Mail & Guardian Madonsela said, while Jonas had tendered his cellphone records, Gupta had not.

In the affidavit, Gupta also denied the “belated allegation” made by Jonas at the commission that he threatened to kill Jonas.

Jonas made the bombshell allegation in his testimony before the commission in August.

His testimony related to an alleged clandestine meeting at the Gupta compound in Saxonwold, Johannesburg, during which Jonas said he was offered the position of finance minister and a bribe of R600‑million in exchange for his co-operation in Gupta business affairs.

“At the end of the meeting, Mr Gupta repeated that they had information on me and if I suggested that the meeting had occurred, they would kill me,” Jonas told the commission.

But Gupta said this allegation was made “for the first time ever” at the commission. “In his version to the public protector he never made such claims, even when he was specifically questioned about any threats,” said Gupta.

Madonsela said she could not recall whether, when she interviewed Jonas, he had referred to death threats.

Gupta added that Jonas gave a false description of the layout of the Gupta compound. 

Jonas said Gupta had “dragged” him into his bar. But Gupta said: “I point out that there is no bar area on the level where the lounge is situated as alleged by Mr Jonas.”

Gupta also contends that his identity was introduced to Jonas during his testimony “by way of a leading question”, leading Jonas to conclude that he had met with Ajay Gupta and not with anybody else.

During his testimony Jonas admitted that he could not exclude “the possibility that it might have been Mr Rajesh Gupta” whom he had met.

Ajay Gupta denied knowing controversial arms deal adviser Fana Hlongwane “at all at the time”. Jonas has claimed Hlongwane and former president Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane were at the meeting.

“I knew of him and was aware that he and Duduzane were friends. I had no business with them with regard to any meeting they planned,” he said.

Gupta concludes that in his view Jonas has “either by his own devising or by the devising of others, been put up to paint a false picture of me”.

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. Read more from Sarah Smit

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