South Africa: Mcebisi Jonas Was Never Offered Ministerial Post During Meeting At Gupta Home, Hlongwane Tells State Capture Inquiry

Businessman Fana Hlongwane has told the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture that no ministerial post was offered to former finance deputy minister Mcebisi Jonas during a meeting he attended at the Gupta's home in Saxonwold, Johannesburg, in October 2015.

"I hold no brief for the Guptas or anybody else for that matter... at the meeting in which I was present, no such offer was made," Hlongwane told inquiry chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on Wednesday.

"Chair, I was not in business with the Guptas at that time, or any point ever. They were not particularly familiar to me. My point of contact was Duduzane [Zuma].

"One would have been in business with them for them to make whatever offers of that nature in my presence. I was not in business then, I am not in business now, I never was in business."

Hlongwane said Duduzane Zuma, son of former president Jacob Zuma, had informed him that there was a rumour that he was blackmailing Jonas.

The rumours prompted Zuma to facilitate a meeting between Hlongwane and Jonas on October 23, 2015.

The meeting which he arranged was the infamous one in which, according to Jonas, members of the Gupta family offered him R600m to take up the position of finance minister.

Jonas testified that Zuma had driven him to the meeting. During his testimony, Hlongwane said he had asked Duduzane to arrange the meeting.

He said the son of the former president and Jonas met at the Hyatt Hotel in Rosebank, but Hlongwane asked for it to be moved to a more "private" venue.

He told Zondo that, when he asked Jonas about the blackmail rumours, his response was that he did not have any recollection of the allegations.

He said the meeting was tense and only lasted for a few minutes.

"I am peripheral to this matter. There was a particular matter that the young man had canvassed with me. I needed it resolved and it so happens that the meeting took place at the place at which happens to be controversial for whatever reasons. At the meeting, which I attended, no such offers were made," Hlongwane said.

He said he did not know who the source of the rumour was.

"The issue was of a serious nature... here is someone I considered a friend and he said he had no recollection," Hlongwane said.

But Zondo had a problem with parts of Hlongwane's evidence. He said it was strange that a "whole meeting is conveyed and there is hardly any detail of the rumour that Mr Duduzane Zuma tells you about, also he doesn't give any source, there is no detail and of course the moment Mr Jonas, at the meeting on your version, says he has no recollection of making such allegation. That is about the end?"

Hlongwane said he also found a lot of things "strange".

"I have sympathy indeed from where you are, as chair of this commission with your perspective that somebody says there is a rumour, they don't go into detail... the logic is slightly different, that is why I did not raise the matter with Jonas.

"That is why somebody said, 'but you are friends, you could have raised it'. It is not how it works, I needed to establish in a particular way. I believe at some point this things will come out."

Source: News24

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