Hawks: Zuma under ongoing criminal investigation
New facts have been found, Hawks confirm as they continue to investigate former president and Ajay Gupta
The Hawks have confirmed there is an “ongoing” criminal investigation against former president Jacob Zuma and Ajay Gupta, with a link to former government communications head Themba Maseko’s state capture allegations.“The case is still ongoing and new facts have been found,” Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi told Times Select, adding that “to say the case has been put to bed is not true”.
Mulaudzi’s comment marks the first time that the Hawks have publicly confirmed that Zuma is under criminal investigation for alleged “state capture” corruption.
The Hawks spokesperson was responding to Maseko’s testimony at the State Capture Inquiry, where the former head of government communications said he was informed by the Hawks in April that they were considering unidentified charges against Zuma and Ajay Gupta.
Maseko alleges that both Zuma and Gupta tried to pressure him into channelling the Government Communication and Information System’s (GCIS) R600m advertising budget to the family’s media organisation in 2010.
He was testifying after former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor completed her testimony.“Around April 2018, I got a call from the Hawks requesting a meeting with me to take the matter forward. They informed me that the matter had been handed over from Captain Govender to a new team of investigators, who were preparing to take the matter to court ... possibly charging Mr Ajay Gupta and [former] president Zuma. They said they wanted to go through the two affidavits I had made.
“I was given the impression that they were actually getting ready to proceed with the case, but a few weeks after that exchange they informed me that my matter was no longer going to be followed through ... The words they used were that the matter had been put in abeyance ... I should relax,” he said.
Maseko has also testified that, following his highly publicised claims that Zuma asked him to “help” the Guptas, he became the subject of a Hawks investigation focused on a tender awarded 13 years ago.
Following a Sunday Times report on the possibility of an investigation into this tender, Maseko said he was contacted by recently appointed Hawks head General Godfrey Lebeya, who initially said the unit had no record of such an investigation. Maseko said Lebeya subsequently contacted Hawks officers who were working on this investigation, which he said was opened “before his time”.
According to Maseko, the matter is now with the National Prosecuting Authority, which has yet to decide whether he should be charged or not. Evidence leader Vincent Maleka said the commission’s investigators were trying to establish the status of the case.“It is unfortunate that a witness would have a cloud hanging over him regarding a matter that occurred 13 years ago,” Maleka said.
Maseko responded that the investigation was “a distraction”.
During his testimony, Maseko revealed that he was contacted by Gupta patriarch Ajay in “September, October 2010”.
“I received a call from Ajay Gupta requesting a meeting to discuss a new project that he said needed government support. I asked him for more information but he said the best way was to meet to discuss the project. I was reluctant to accede to Mr Ajay Gupta’s request, as I did not have details of the project.”
Maseko added that there were rumours at the time that the Gupta family intended to “get into the media space”. He said there were already perceptions that the Guptas’ conduct was “untoward”, and that they were using their connections and influence with senior politicians to extract tenders from government departments and state-owned enterprises.
Despite these misgivings, Maseko agreed to the meeting, which he is set to detail during his continued testimony on Thursday morning.He told the inquiry earlier that what transpired at that meeting was “inappropriate”.
“It is still my view that the approach by the Gupta family was inappropriate in various respects. Firstly, making demands on me as a public official – not just an ordinary public official as GCIS was part of the Presidency, so a senior official who was also working in the Presidency.
"Making demands, summoning me to their house, and threatening that if I didn’t do what they asked I would be dealt with. I found that inappropriate, irregular and uncalled for,” Maseko said.