South Africa: Hawks Tried Several Times to Obtain Statement From Mcebisi Jonas in Gupta Probe, State Capture Inquiry Hears

19 November 2019

The judicial commission of inquiry into state capture has heard how former deputy minister of finance Mcebisi Jonas was contacted twice by former Hawks head Berning Ntlemeza after he failed to co-operate in the unit's Gupta investigation.

On Tuesday, Hawks deputy head Lieutenant General Yolisa Matakata told the commission about a meeting she had with Ntlemeza and Major General Zintle Mnonopi, who was tasked with the investigation.

Complaints against the Guptas were laid by MPs David Maynier (DA) and Dennis Bloem (Cope) after Jonas revealed the alleged attempts by Ajay Gupta to buy him.

Matakata said Mnonopi had raised concerns with Ntlemeza that she had been trying to get hold of Jonas to get his statement, and asked Ntlemeza to intervene.

"Ntlemeza immediately called the deputy minister, who responded immediately to the call. [He] indicated to him that General Mnonopi, who had been assigned to this matter, is really looking for him and raising concerns that she had been trying to get hold of him to depose to an affidavit.

"The deputy minister asked: 'What do you want from me as the Hawks, because I am not a witness, I am not a complainant, I didn't open a case and therefore I am not going to give a statement'."

'Non-cooperation of deputy minister'

Ntlemeza told him that the DA and Cope had opened cases relating to his interview in the media about being in the Gupta house, she said.

Matakata said Jonas had agreed to meet with Mnonopi, but failed to do so.

She said Ntlemeza then called Jonas again, informing him that Mnonopi had been trying to get hold of him to obtain a statement.

Matakata also said the Hawks had gone as far as writing to the speaker of Parliament, asking for an intervention in the matter.

She signed a letter on behalf of Ntlemeza, which was addressed to Parliament's speaker, who was Baleka Mbete at the time.

She said the Hawks requested that Mbete intervene, "due to the non-cooperation of the deputy minister, in the investigation [of] the Hawks at the time, after it had arranged several times to get a statement from him".

In August 2018, Jonas told inquiry chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo that the Hawks were reluctant to investigate his claims.

'A DA matter'

Jonas claimed the Hawks had tried to "kill" the case by preparing a statement contradicting his previous media statement that he was offered R600m if he took the job of finance minister in 2015.

He told the commission that Mnonopi had referred to the matter as "a DA matter" and that he felt the police wanted to quash the issue.

But in her affidavit to the commission, Mnonopi - who was suspended from the unit - said Jonas had defeated the ends of justice, because "he failed to open a case timeously, thus the Guptas were not arrested and have consequently freely left the country because no warrant [of arrest] was issued".

She also denied that she ever referred to the case as "a DA matter" or that she wanted to "kill" it.

Mnonopi further said she had only managed to secure a meeting with Jonas in July 2016 after several attempts proved unsuccessful.

Source: News24

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