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Jonas stands by his state capture testimony

Former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas has defended his testimony before the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture.

During his Friday appearance before the commission — chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo — Jonas stood by his bombshell testimony, which he delivered last August.

In his earlier testimony, Jonas alleged that he was whisked away to the Gupta family’s Saxonwold compound for a clandestine meeting with one of the Gupta brothers. According to the former minister, the 2015 meeting was co-ordinated by arms deal adviser Fana Hlongwane and the former president’s son, Duduzane Zuma.

Last year, Jonas said the meeting with Zuma was originally supposed to happen at the Hyatt hotel in Rosebank, but Zuma asked that the meeting be moved to a more private venue.

Jonas alleged that he was offered a promotion and a bribe of R600-million by the Guptas in exchange for his co-operation in furthering the controversial family’s business interests. His testimony also yielded two new and serious allegations: a Gupta brother — supposedly Gupta patriarch, Ajay — had threatened to kill Jonas, and senior officials in the Hawks had tried to foil an investigation of the bribe.

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

“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 last year.

Zuma and Hlongwane have been granted leave to cross-examine Jonas. The Gupta brothers were denied the same privilege, owing to their refusal to appear before the commission to give their own versions in person.

On Friday, the affidavits of Hlongwane, Zuma and two Gupta brothers were put to Jonas. All four statements to the commission deny that any of the Gupta brothers had attended the meeting and that Jonas was offered a bribe.

Zuma alleges in his affidavit to the commission that Jonas was fully aware that the meeting was being moved to the Gupta residence and that he showed no discomfort at this fact. On Friday, Jonas denied this.

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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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