South Africa: Former Zuma Adviser and Hawks Official to Question Mentor At Zondo Commission

12 February 2019

Former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor will return to the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture on Tuesday for a question and answer session.

It will be day two of her cross-examination at the inquiry, looking into claims that members of the controversial Gupta family used their close relationship with former president Jacob Zuma to capture the state and loot billions from South Africa.

Legal counsel for two people are expected to cross-examine Mentor. Zuma's former adviser Lakela Kaunda, and Hawks official Mandla Mtolo, had applied to quiz the former parliamentarian.

Mentor had claimed Kaunda was the person who called to set up her meeting with Zuma, which turned out to be one with the Gupta brothers. Mentor also accused Mtolo of once telling her that a case she opened against the controversial family and Zuma would not be investigated, unless she removed the former president's name.

Mentor claims the Gupta family offered her the position of public enterprises minister if she would cancel SAA's lucrative direct route to India.

She also claimed Zuma was in the house when this happened.

The commission is investigating allegations against those said to have captured the state and the former president. It has placed the Guptas at the centre of a project which has stolen millions from the country.

On Monday, an agitated and exhausted Mentor told the chairperson of the commission, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, that the inquiry had taken its toll on her.

She was asked to give clarity on her August 2018 testimony. During cross-examination by commission evidence leader Mahlape Sello, Mentor conceded when told that Home Affairs records showed Atul Gupta was not part of the trip to China mentioned in her testimony. Mentor had claimed this was where she first met all the brothers.

Mentor also challenged the accuracy of SAA records, which showed no details of her taking a round trip to Johannesburg from Cape Town, between September and October 2010. This was supported by Sello, who told the commission two other trips Mentor had taken via agencies in Parliament had not been recorded.

When it came to the in loco inspection of the Gupta home in Saxonwold where Mentor, the commission, and the Guptas' videographer were joined by experts, it was found that none of the five features Mentor identified in the notorious family's home were there.

Mentor complained that the experts had been given a narrow scope and that she had no idea that the inspection was just a visual exercise.

"I was allowed to waste time for two and [a] half hours, to say to the experts to check there, check there... if I knew they were not going to come back, I would have made definite statements about the features," Mentor told Zondo.


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