Reverend Frank Chikane has said the arrival of the Gupta family in South Africa and them targeting individuals in key government positions was “not an accident of history” and that evidence in the public domain suggested it was an “intelligence operation”.
The Guptas are alleged to be at the centre of state capture and were closely associated with former president Jacob Zuma. The Guptas are reported to be currently residing in Dubai after fleeing the country as investigations into state capture intensified.
Testifying at the commission of inquiry into state capture on Tuesday, Chikane said considering evidence before the commission and in the public domain he became convinced “that the Gupta family was not an accident of history”.
Chikane said that looking at the family’s efforts to reach him and others who occupied key government positions suggests that this was an “intelligence operation” targeting these individuals with the intention to corrupt them and ultimately capture the state.
Chikane is a former director-general in then president Thabo Mbeki’s office.
“If such an intelligence operation was in place I would have been surprised if our national intelligence services missed it,” Chikane told the chairperson of the commission, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
He added that if South Africa’s intelligence services had failed to detect this “operation” it would mean the country was very vulnerable.
Chikane earlier told the commission that what also suggested to him that the Guptas’ presence in South Africa was not accidental was that the family had a number of contacts despite having arrived in the country around 1994, which did not make sense.
“It couldn’t have been an accident that they picked up a young Chikane to get to me,” Chikane said.
Zondo had heard earlier that Chikane had come to know of the Guptas after a younger member of his family who had an interest in IT ended up in the employ of the Guptas’ Sahara Computers.
Chikane said the younger Chikane was approached by officials at Sahara Computers who showed an interest in the philanthropic work done by the reverend’s wife and that this was how the Guptas met with “uMama”.
“At that time there was no suspicion, I had no knowledge of the Guptas,” Chikane said.
He told the commission that at a later stage he met them at a state banquet.