Guptas offering Vytjie Mentor a ministerial post probably never happened – Zondo

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The State Capture Commission has poured cold water on former ANC parliamentarian Vytjie Mentor’s testimony about the Guptas allegedly offering her a ministerial position.

Commission chair, Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on Wednesday evening handed the fifth and final installment of the state capture report to President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Union Buildings, Pretoria.

In the report, Zondo said Mentor’s testimony about Ajay Gupta allegedly offering her the position of public enterprises minister in October 2010, could not be relied on due to evidence that contradicted her version of events.

“I consider that there are too many unsatisfactory features in Ms Mentor’s evidence to enable me to make a finding that she was made an offer of a ministerial position by a Gupta family member is true.

“Although there are features which count in her favour, in my view, there is not enough to justify a finding that the incident did take place,” the chief justice said.

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Zondo said the commission went to great lengths to try and establish from the record of airlines whether Mentor had indeed travelled from Cape Town to Johannesburg on the day in question. However, such evidence could not be found.

“No Parliamentary records about her trip could be found that could corroborate her evidence that she had undertaken an official trip from Cape Town to Johannesburg on the day in question.

“Most of the features of the Gupta house that she had testified about or that she had included in her affidavit could not be found when an inspection in loco was undertaken.”

Ajay Gupta’s ‘job offer’

Mentor told the commission that in October 2010, she received a call from the then deputy director-general in the Presidency, Lakela Kaunda, after she had been trying for some time to meet with former president Jacob Zuma regarding – among other issues – a nuclear study project of the SA government.

Instead of meeting with Zuma, Mentor said she was taken to the Guptas’ infamous Saxonwold compound in Johannesburg, where Ajay Gupta allegedly promised to make her the minister of public enterprises.

This apparently happened while Zuma was in another room.

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Mentor claimed the offer was on the condition that she agreed to use the ministerial position to cancel the flight which South African Airways (SAA) conducted between SA and India.

She said she declined the offer and was surprised that on 31 October 2010, Zuma announced a Cabinet reshuffle in which Malusi Gigaba was announced as the new minister of public enterprises.

Inconsistencies

Zondo found that Mentor’s two friends, who she allegedly told about the incident, could not corroborate her version of events.

“The close friendship that she had had with them for many years was such that in my view there is no way that she would not have told them about what had happened to her at the Gupta residence if the incident had happened, and if she had told them, there is no way that both would not have remembered that she had told them about such an incident.

“It seems to me that she never told them. It is true that she told Mr [Dennis] Bloem but it’s strange that she told Mr Bloem and did not tell even one of her two close friends.”

Lakela Kaunda’s affidavit

In her affidavit to the commission, Kaunda also disputed Mentor’s claim that she was the one who called her to set up the meeting with Zuma.

She also submitted the records of her office to substantiate her denial and sought leave to cross-examine Mentor.

Zondo said the former ANC MP tried to explain away the contradiction by claiming that there was a miscommunication between herself and her lawyers who drafted her affidavit to the commission.

However, Zondo wasn’t convinced by the explanation.

“Ms Mentor’s adamant refusal to concede that she might have been mistaken on the point has a deeper significance. It shows either that she is very reluctant to accept that she might be mistaken in her recollection, or that her testimony as a whole is unworthy of belief.

“After all, as was put to Ms Mentor, the trigger event which caused Ms Mentor, on her version, to travel to Johannesburg to see President Zuma was the call from the member of president Zuma’s staff whom she identified unequivocally as Ms Kaunda.

“In my view, Ms Kaunda made no such call. I therefore consider very carefully whether Ms Mentor’s testimony can broadly be believed.”

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SAA records

The chief justice further said Mentor was presented with records of SAA which purported to cast doubt on her allegation that she travelled to Johannesburg on the day in question and returned to Cape Town on the same day.

However, she stood by her version of events and questioned the accuracy of these flight records.

“I conclude that, on the probabilities and on the evidence before the commission, the incident did not happen and Ms Mentor was not offered a position as minister of public enterprises by a member of the Gupta family at the Gupta residence,” Zondo said.

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Source: citizen