20 September 2018

South Africa: Ajay Gupta - Mcebisi Jonas Is Painting 'A False Picture' of Me

Ajay Gupta, patriarch of the Gupta family who is at the centre of state capture allegations, has taken issue with former deputy minister of finance Mcebisi Jonas and has rejected key allegations made against him.

In a sworn affidavit, deposed in Dubai where Gupta is in self-imposed exile and stamped by the South African consul general in the city, he claims that he was nowhere near the family's Saxonwold compound when Jonas says he was offered a ministerial position in October 2015.

He states "categorically" that he never met Jonas on that date and that his colleagues, including Ronica Ragavan who has emerged as one of the prime Gupta operators, can attest to the fact that he was at the company's office on Katherine Street in Sandton.

He adds that he gave his cellphone records - which supposedly corroborate his statement - to then Public Protector Thuli Madonsela during her investigation. He accuses her of offering him a "superficial" interview.

Gupta also believes that Jonas was uncertain about who it was that he met at Saxonwold and argues that even based on Jonas' testimony it could have been his brother, Rajesh. Ajay Gupta, however, does not deny that Jonas was at the family home on that date or that one of the other brothers, Atul or Rajesh, could have been there.

Jonas, appearing before the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture in August, testified that upon leaving the Saxonwold property and after apparently rejecting the offer of a ministerial appointment, Ajay Gupta threatened to "kill him".

Meeting 'intentional fabrication'

Gupta denies this, too: "In his version to the Public Protector he never had (sic) such claims, even when he was specifically questioned about any threats he may have received."

Gupta adds that not only did he not meet with Jonas, but he also did not make an offer of any kind and made no threats against the then deputy minister. He also denies that he told then president Jacob Zuma "what to do" or that he controlled "everything".

Gupta says the meeting between Jonas, Duduzane Zuma and Fana Hlongwane that Jonas testified about and whose details are given in Madonsela's State of Capture report is an "intentional fabrication".

"I point out that there is no bar area on the level where the lounge is situated as alleged by Mr Jonas."

Gupta, who was denied leave to cross-examine Jonas earlier because he refused to return to South Africa to appear before the commission, accuses Jonas of "painting a false picture" of him."It follows that I made no offer of a ministerial post as described by him, I did not make any offer to him to pay him either R600 000 in cash or offer to pay him R600m in the account of his choice. I did not have any knowledge of any upcoming Cabinet reshuffling and/or about ministers that may be fired and I did not have influence over the appointment of any members of the national executive nor did I ever have such influence," Gupta says.


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