State capture whistleblower and former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor has died after a protracted illness.
Mentor, 58, was an anti-apartheid activist who then served as an ANC member of the national assembly from 2002 to 2014 and as its caucus chairperson between 2004 and 2008. From 2009 she served as chairperson of the public enterprises portfolio committee.
In 2016 she made headlines with the claims that the Gupta brothers had offered to have her appointed as public enterprises minister to replace Barbara Hogan in return for making decisions as minister that would further their business interests.
She later went on to testify about the offer — and details of a trip she undertook to China in October 2010 with former president Jacob Zuma — at the Zondo commission into state capture.
According to Mentor’s evidence, Zuma was in the next room when Ajay Gupta made her the offer.
But some of her evidence could not be corroborated by the commission’s evidence leaders, with Zondo finding in his report that “the incident did not happen”.
Mentor resigned from parliament in 2014, ahead of the elections, but only left the ANC in 2019, when she joined the African Christian Democratic Party.
In 2020, she joined ActionSA, becoming its Western Cape chairperson, a position she held until June 2022, when she resigned from the post because of ill health.
ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba said they had been informed of Mentor’s death by her family and that she had been admitted to hospital because of her battle with long-term illness.
“It should not be forgotten that Vytjie Mentor was the first to sound the alarm on what we today call state capture. We will keep the family and friends of Vytjie in our thoughts and prayers and ask that her loved ones be given the privacy to grieve during this time,” Mashaba said.
He said her death was a “huge loss” for ActionSA, in which she had played a “robust” role.
Born in what is now North West province, Mentor attended Hebron College and later the University of the Witwatersrand.