More questions have been placed against former Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas’ claims he was the target of an attempted R600m bribe by the Gupta family following a rush of affidavits filed by Rajesh ‘Tony’ Gupta, Duduzane Zuma and controversial arms deal adviser Fana Hlongwane as part of their applications to cross-examine Jonas at the state capture commission of inquiry, notes Legalbrief. In the Rajesh Gupta affidavit, he has identified himself as the only Gupta brother who was at the family’s Saxonwold home on that day – but insists he never even spoke to Jonas. He also accuses Jonas of ‘intentional fabrication’. His bid to cross-examine Jonas was denied. According to BusinessLIVE, Rajesh Gupta also insists he only briefly walked into the room where Jonas was meeting former President Jacob Zuma’s son‚ Duduzane‚ and arms deal adviser Hlongwane. He did so‚ he says‚ to check on Duduzane Zuma’s availability for the following day. ‘I did not introduce myself to anybody‚ nor did I participate in that meeting. I did not have any discussion with Mr Jonas at all‚’ he states in the affidavit. BusinessLIVE says Rajesh Gupta’s revelations cast further doubt on the unspecified arrest warrant issued against Ajay Gupta this year‚ and which is understood to have been obtained in relation to the corruption claims made against him by Jonas in the State of Capturereport released by then Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. It was on the basis of that arrest warrant that Ajay Gupta was declared a fugitive from justice. According to Ajay Gupta‚ his lawyers have repeatedly tried to ascertain what he is wanted for from the Hawks‚ but have been unsuccessful. This ‘lack of transparency’‚ he says‚ is a key reason why he does not trust the Hawks and the NPA‚ and will not return to SA to give evidence to the Zondo commission.
Jonas initially claimed he had met Ajay Gupta on the afternoon of 23 October 2015‚ when he said Ajay Gupta tried to bribe him to accept then Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene’s post, notes TimesLIVE. He later admitted in his testimony to the Zondo inquiry that he may have been mistaken‚ and could have met Rajesh Gupta instead. Jonas described in his evidence how a Gupta brother told him that the family was ‘in control of everything’ and Zuma would do anything they told him to. He also revealed that this Gupta brother – who he says was either Ajay or Rajesh – threatened to kill him if he disclosed that the family had met him‚ and tried to bribe him to take the Finance Minister position. This threat was made within earshot of Duduzane Zuma and Hlongwane‚ Jonas said. But Rajesh Gupta now says Jonas’ testimony ‘that he had a meeting with Mr Ajay Kumar Gupta and/or me during the afternoon of 23 October 2015 at no 5 Saxonwold Drive can only be an intentional fabrication’ of his meeting with Zuma and Hlongwane. Both Hlongwane and Zuma have claimed the meeting with Jonas was aimed at addressing his alleged accusations that Hlongwane was trying to blackmail him. They have both been given the right to cross-examine Jonas on his evidence. It now appears that their evidence will support the testimony given in affidavits by both Rajesh and Ajay Gupta, who now have both denied having met Jonas. In an earlier affidavit, recorded in a News24 report, Ajay Gupta said he was not even at the house at the time that Jonas was present.
The broadside against Jonas has been backed by Duduzane Zuma and Hlongwane, who claimed the meeting with Jonas was merely to clear up rumours that Hlongwane was blackmailing Jonas. In sworn statements submitted to the commission, the two also insisted that at no point during the meeting was the position of Finance Minister offered to Jonas. Zuma also said that no threat was made to Jonas’ life. The statements – setting out Zuma’s and Hlongwane’s version of events – were made to support their applications to cross-examine Jonas. Their applications have been granted and it is expected that all three will be grilled on their versions, notes a Mail & Guardian report. In his statement controversial arms deal adviser and businessman Hlongwane said he had known Jonas for ‘many years and … we became good friends’, adding that they ‘in fact tried to negotiate a number of transactions in the past’. But in October 2015 he was made aware by Zuma ‘that Mr Jonas had made allegations to the effect that I was blackmailing him’. ‘These allegations seemed incredible and completely at odds with our relationship and the true facts,’ said Hlongwane. He was ‘very perturbed’ and asked the young Zuma to ‘urgently convene a meeting between the three of us’. Neither Hlongwane nor Zuma give any further details on the blackmail rumours.