South Africa 28.8.2018 11:54 am

Guptas knew ‘top secret’ Denel information, Mentor testifies

Vytjie Mentor prepares to give her testimony to the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture held at in Johannesburg, 27 August 2018. Picture: Refilwe Modise

Vytjie Mentor prepares to give her testimony to the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture held at in Johannesburg, 27 August 2018. Picture: Refilwe Modise

Mentor says when she told Zuma about Ajay Gupta’s knowledge of top secret information and the ministerial post offer, the former president focused on calming her down.

Former ANC member of parliament Vytjie Mentor continued her testimony at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture on Tuesday, saying that at the same meeting between the Gupta family and herself, where she was offered a cabinet position, one of the Gupta brothers spoke to her about a “top secret” matter at state-owned arms manufacturer Denel.

Mentor testified that the meeting took place eight years ago at the Saxonwold Gupta family compound.

“Mr Ajay Gupta had also brought forward the issue of Denel. He mentioned the issue of Denel that pertained between Denel and some companies in India and the Indian government. That issue, that he raised with me, was a top-secret issue, that no private citizen should have known about. I knew about the issue, but I didn’t say much, because I was a member of the joint standing committee on intelligence and I knew about the issue.

“There was a matter, I don’t want to disclose much of the matter, that he offered to resolve, between Denel and the Indian government. I was surprised that he knew about the matter, I was also extremely shocked because that matter was top secret. Because the matter was top secret, I did not entertain him on the matter,” Mentor told the commission.

Testifying about the offer of the post of minister of public enterprises allegedly made by Ajay Gupta, Mentor confirmed that she had turned down the offer, telling the Gupta brother that only the president could offer ministerial posts.

Mentor said the Gupta brother had not appeared upset by her rejection or her assertion that only former President Jacob Zuma could offer ministerial jobs.

“He was not perturbed… that did not persuade him to abandon his offer, he persisted on it and we had a bit of an exchange and I became agitated. I began to become agitated and I got angry and I raised my voice, we were not agreeing on the issue,” Mentor said.

The former ANC MP said at the point when she turned down the post, Zuma walked in.

“Just when I was getting very angry, he emerged, and when he walked in, I rose from my seat, much as I was on crutches, out of courtesy, protocol and respect, and he greeted me whilst he was standing and I was standing. Ajay remained seated.

“I immediately went ahead to tell the president what Ajay had said to me, which was in relation to the offer, including the issue of the imminent reshuffle of Barbara Hogan as he had informed me about.

“The president sought to calm me down, he did not address the issues that I was putting before him, he repeatedly told me to calm down. I felt that he was not paying attention to the issues I was bringing to his attention and I felt that he was finding issue with me rather, with my anger, and with my agitation,” Mentor said.

The commission adjourned for tea at 11.20 am and was expected to resume at 11.35 am.

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