Ajay Gupta was so privy to official government business that he knew information classified as top secret pertaining to Denel’s dealings with the Indian government. Denel is SA’s state-owned manufacturer of defence equipment.
This was among revelations made yesterday by former ANC member of parliament Vytjie Mentor during the second day of her testimony to the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.
She was relating her conversation with Ajay at the family’s Saxonwold compound eight years ago, where an offer as minister of public enterprises was made.
“Before Ajay made the offer, which I declined, he brought up a matter which was classified – the matter … pertaining to Denel and the government of India.
“This was a top secret issue which no private citizen should have known about. I knew about it because I was a member of the parliamentary joint standing committee on intelligence,” said Mentor. “I was surprised he knew about it but did not entertain it because it was top secret.”
Commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo asked the inquiry’s legal team “how to deal with the top secret matter”, with evidence leader senior counsel Mahlape Sello suggesting a declassification of the document forming part of Mentor’s submission.
Relating a heated exchange at the Gupta home when she declined the Cabinet post, Mentor said she told Gupta he did not have the “authority to offer me or any other person a ministerial post”.
“I was irritated and told him that only the president and [ANC headquarters ] Luthuli House can determine who becomes a minister,” said Mentor.
It was during the heated exchange that former president Jacob Zuma emerged from the direction of the bathroom.
“He emerged when I got angry,” Mentor said. “I rose out of respect to greet him while Ajay remained seated – something which showed no respect.
“When I told the president what Ajay said about offering me a Cabinet post and about an imminent reshuffle, all he sought to do was to calm me down.
“I felt he was not paying attention with issues I raised, but had issue with my agitation, without asking Ajay anything.
“I realised he was not surprised or objecting to what Ajay Gupta had told me. He also did not ask Ajay anything.
“When I realised I was not winning, I told him it was time to leave.
“The atmosphere was inexplicable.
“All that the president could say to me as he walked me out of the Gupta home was zinakekele ntombazana (“look after yourself, young lady”).”