The Commission of Inquiry into State Capture has heard how the Guptas used their relationship with former President Jacob Zuma to bully their way into businesses.
The former Director of the Domestic Branch of State Security Agency, Gibson Njenje told the commission in Parktown, Johannesburg, that he was brought in to mediate at a meeting where Ajay Gupta demanded a 90% stake in a company linked to former President Kgalema Motlanthe‘s wife, Gugu Mtshali.
Njenje, together with Mo Shaik and Jeff Maqethuka worked at the intelligence agency from 2009 to 2011 when they were forced to resign due to the breakdown of relationship with then State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele.
Gibson Njenje told the commission how he was called by his long-time friend, Archie Luhlabo requesting to come to former President Kgalema Motlanthe’s home in Sandton. He said he found Luhlabo there with Motlanthe’s wife, Gugu Mtshali who both were directors of a mining company called Imperial Crown Trading (ICT).
Njenje said Luhlabo then requested that he accompany them to the Gupta’s Saxonwold residence and mediate between the parties. He said Ajay Gupta said that they were not greedy, but have a lot of people to take care of with that 90%.
“He said the input that they were going to make was more than that 90 %. He was not going to put in any money now. He was not going to buy these share, but he was going to make all problems to go away because of his influence and because he’s got money, yes.”
Njenje also told the commission of another investigation that former State Security Minister, Siyabonga Cwele stopped. He said Cwele requested him to investigate operations of a covert Principal Agent Network known as (PAN), with allegations of abuse of taxpayers’ money.
Much like the South African Police Service’s secret slush fund, it was found that PAN was used for the purchase and leasing of properties, buying of 300 vehicles, employing untrained or vetted agents and siphoning off funds to family and relatives of senior members.
Njenje says after handing over the PAN investigation to the NPA, Cwele instructed him to stop further investigations.
“I said no but you need to tell me, he said no it is the President’s decision…he said it was the President’s decision that it should not be continued…that’s correct chair. I said but why he said the President thinks that this is going to compromise national security if we go ahead and prosecute, I said no minister, we are dealing with criminality here not national security. He was adamant that it was the President’s decision, I should just sit with that, SIU and everyone else does not proceed.”
Concluding his testimony earlier on, former head of South Africa’s Secret Service Mo Shaik told the Commission that his involvement in the investigation of the Guptas was a significant because of him being pushed out of the intelligence agency. He said he did not know the enormous influence the Guptas had on state affairs.
“I always considered them not to be quite open about it, I considered them to be hangers-on that you normally find in political processes etc, but I did not know of the enormous influence that they wielded.”