/ 18 June 2021

Gigaba questions high court ruling on wife’s arrest

Former South African Minister Malusi Gigaba Gives Evidence At The Zondo Commission
Former public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba. (Photo by Sharon Seretlo/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

Former public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba on Friday in testimony to the Zondo commission faulted the Pretoria high court for dismissing the notion that state agencies were conspiring with his estranged wife to kill him without hearing his version.

“I had actually received threats to my life that I needed to act on,” he said, before repeatedly terming the ruling “curious” and “puzzling”.

The high court in February set aside Norma Mngoma’s arrest by the Hawks seven months earlier and held that the confiscation of her cellphones and laptops by the police, as well as the deletion of information from these, had been unlawful.

Judge Cassim Sardiwalla said her arrest “appeared to be motivated by an abuse of power by a former minister” and the argument by the officers that they were investigating a conspiracy to commit murder against Gigaba was “not sustainable in light of the fact they have alluded to no further information on this alleged conspiracy”.

“How the judgment strayed into this matter puzzles me,” Gigaba said.

“The allegations of a conspiracy to kill me, in my opinion, were not before this court.”

Gigaba said he failed in particular to understand how the court could come to a conclusion about the existence or otherwise of a threat without having the benefit of his version of events, and prompting Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to point out that it was not obliged to solicit his testimony because he was not a party to the case.

Regarding the finding that he appeared to have abused his powers, Gigaba said by the time Mngoma was arrested, he had none, not having been a member of cabinet for more than a year, and added that the judge’s remarks were deeply damaging to him.

“I reject that there was an abuse of power on my part. In 2020, I had not been a minister for more than a year and the fact that I am a former minister does not give me power that I do not have.”

He insisted that when Mngoma damaged a friend’s car at their home with a vegetable slicer in July last year, he had a right of recourse to the Hawks because they were investigating a threatening message sent on WhatsApp. 

His wife’s anger was such that he felt intimidated and thought it proper to report the incident to the same officers investigating the threat.

Gigaba said after his wife’s arrest, the Hawks received a phone call from a senior crime intelligence officer who “claims that I had paid a bribe to them to arrest Ms Mngoma”.

“On what basis did he make that allegation?” he asked, before offering his own theory.

“Criminal intelligence and state security and certain people in the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority] were involved in a political plot of sorts which involved me and when Ms Mngoma was arrested it interfered with their asset, which was Ms Mngoma, and therefore created a situation in which they had to exonerate her.”

He went on to suggest that the court ruling had informed Mngoma’s testimony to the commission, which he on Friday again dismissed as motivated by malice and bitterness, to the extent that she could claim that proof linking him to state capture was erased from her phone and laptop.

“To me this judgment was in itself a curious judgment which set the tone for what was to be said here … that Malusi has done this but that information is not available because it was extracted from my phone.”

The court ordered the Hawks to restore all information unlawfully removed from Mngoma’s technology. It found that obtaining and executing a warrant of arrest after mentioning the complaint of crimen injuria in relation to a plot when “there is no link between those crimes and that crime of conspiracy of murder it allegedly was initially investigating” was a clear abuse of her rights. 

Finally, Gigaba said he did not seek to intimidate Mngoma by calling the police and did not see why Sardiwalla raised patriarchy in his ruling on her arrest.

“I dispute the fact that the warrant had an ulterior motive,” he said.

“The judge then makes a statement which I find very problematic, that the scourge and dominance and patriarchy in our society must be pierced and women’s rights to equal treatment must be protected. But then so should our rights as men.”

He insisted that his conduct towards Mngoma when she was arrested was impeccable. He said he sought to withdraw the charge that led to it, and when he learnt that he could not, he put up R5 000 bail to secure her release.