Businessman Fana Hlongwane on Wednesday told the commission of inquiry into state capture that no offers were made to the former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas at a meeting held at the Gupta residence in Saxonwold, Johannesburg, in 2015.
Jonas had testified that the meeting was held at the Gupta residence on October 23, 2015, and that during the meeting between himself, Hlongwane, and former president Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane, a member of the Gupta family walked in and started talking to the former deputy minister, saying: “We know you, we know that Hlongwane is blackmailing you.”
Hlongwane said: “Chair, at the meeting which I was present, no such happened.”
Jonas also testified that during the meeting, the member of the Gupta family also told him that former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene would be dismissed and that he was offered R600 million if he accepted to replace Nene.
Hlongwane said no such offers were made to Jonas, adding that the said member of the Gupta family would have had to be comfortable enough to make such offers in his presence, which was unlikely since he was not in business with the controversial family and knew them only through Zuma Jr.
Hlongwane told the commission that the meeting had been convened to discuss a rumour circulating at the time that Jonas was allegedly saying Hlongwane was blackmailing him.
The businessman said the young Zuma had on several occasions told him about the rumour and so tasked him to arrange the meeting so this could be discussed.
On the day, Zuma and Jonas initially met at a hotel but because Hlongwane sought privacy, the meeting was moved to the Gupta residence, the commission heard.
Hlongwane said that at the meeting, he sat facing Zuma with a door to his back, while Jonas was to his right and that there were a number of random interruptions.
He further said a person he had the impression was a member of the Gupta family did “peep” into the meeting but said he could not confirm whether this had been Rajesh, also known as Tony Gupta, as Zuma had testified.
After the lunch adjournment, the commission is also expected to hear testimony from one of the officials at the office of the former Free State premier, Ace Magashule, Moroadi Cholota.