Nearly two months after she mistakenly identified a key player in her testimony at the inquiry into state capture, former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor has issued an apology to Fana Hlongwane.
According to her testimony during the second week of the commission, Mentor testified that Fana Hlongwane was present when she met with then president Jacob Zuma.
While she maintains the man with Zuma at a meeting she attended was businessman Hlongwane, it was pointed out that she had previously named Brian Hlongwa in a book she wrote.
She detailed a meeting with Zuma and two people she could only identify as being “Indian looking”.
She continued to testify that Zuma asked her if he could introduce her to “his chairman”, whom she identified as Hlongwane.
But inquiry chair and Deputy Chief Justice Ray Zondo questioned why, in Mentor’s book No Holy Cows, she had mentioned Hlongwa rather than Hlongwane.
Mentor answered that this was a mistake she could not explain except to say that both the businessman and ANC politician had been in the media, and that she had mixed up the surnames, mistakenly believing that Hlongwane’s name was Brian and Hlongwa’s Fana.
She was also questioned on why, in her interview with then public protector Thuli Madonsela, Mentor didn’t mention Hlongwane or Hlongwa.
Mentor has since apparently issued an apology through her lawyers Webber Wentzel, which states that she “unfortunately erroneously referred to a party in the Commission’s proceedings”.
A lawyers’ letter seen by The Citizen states how she incorrectly recalled being introduced to Fana Hlongwane by Duduzane Zuma on an Emirates flight to Dubai in her written statements and oral presentation.
According to her legal representation, she has since done a Google search for images of Hlongwane and come to realise that he was in fact not the man she was introduced to by Zuma Jr.
“Our client persists in her version that she was introduced to a black man by Duduzane Zuma, who referred to him as ‘Chairman’,” the letter states.
It also expresses Mentor’s wish to “furnish” a sincere apology to Hlongwane “for any embarrassment and/or adverse imputation which the mistake may have caused”.
Through her lawyers, Mentor stated that she was willing to go on the record at the commission to publicly extend her apology to Hlongwane and rectify her error.