Bring it on, says Thuli to sobbing Ajay Gupta
Release the audio of our meeting and everyone will soon know whose version of events is correct, says Madonsela
Former public protector Thuli Madonsela has urged Ajay Gupta to release the recording of his interview with her so “the public can decide if I was biased or asked leading questions”.
“I remember he cried all the time and kept thanking me for agreeing to meet with him ... he was very grateful. I do recall that he denied any wrongdoing,” Madonsela told Times Select.
“If he has a different version of the meeting, I would urge him to ask that the audio of that interview be released to the public.”
She was responding to Ajay Gupta’s affidavit to the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, which was released to Times Select on Thursday.
Gupta claims under oath that Madonsela asked “leading questions” about former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas. This was when she interviewed Gupta about the family’s alleged attempts to bribe Jonas.
But Madonsela said she would welcome the release of the audio interview to set the record straight.
Ajay, in his affidavit, accuses Jonas of deliberately lying about meeting with him. This so-called lie was “either by his own devising or by the devising of others”, claims Gupta.
He denies ever making a job offer to Jonas.
“I made no offer of a ministerial post as described by him, I did not make any offer to him to pay him either R600,000 cash or offer to pay him R600m in an account of his choice.
“I did not have any knowledge of any upcoming cabinet reshuffling and/or about ministers that may be fired – and I did not have any influence over the appointment of any members of the national executive, nor did I ever have such influence.”
The Gupta patriarch also says he could prove he was at Oakbay’s Sandton offices when this allegedly corrupt meeting took place.
Gupta accuses Madonsela of using a “leading question” to establish that he was the person who Jonas says he met on October 23 2015, and who Jonas accuses of trying to bribe and threaten him.
“I had no meeting with Mr Jonas either on 23 October 2015 or on any other day,” says Gupta.
“I therefore had no discussions with him as claimed by him, made no offers of any nature to him to pay money to him should he be prepared to agree to become the minister of finance, or that I tell the president what to do and that I control everything, nor did I make any threats to kill him.”
His version of the events of the meeting he had with controversial arms deal adviser Fana Hlongwane and Duduzane Zuma is “nothing but an intentional fabrication to implicate me in alleged wrongdoing in which I played no part as I was not present and never met Mr Jonas”.
He adds: “I point out that it is highly unlikely that the meeting took place, because if it did in the manner alleged by Mr Jonas, he would immediately have reported it to the nearest police station as he, as any other ordinary citizen, was legally obliged and duty bound under the law to do.”
During his testimony to the state capture inquiry, Jonas admitted he was not entirely sure that the Gupta brother he had met was in fact Ajay. He said it might also have been Rajesh.
Ajay insists his cellphone records show he was at the Oakbay offices when Jonas allegedly met him. He further claims his presence at the office was witnessed by several staff members, including former Oakbay acting CEO Ronica Ragavan.
“I also tendered my cellphone records to the public protector when she afforded me a very superficial interview opportunity during 4 October 2016, when I gave evidence of my version of the allegations levelled by Mr Jonas against me specifically, to objectively confirm my alibi on that specific afternoon.
“It needs to be reiterated that this interview with the public protector was initiated by myself and at my specific request as I asked to give a response to the false claims as reported in the media.
“It was also plain and indisputable that my identity was introduced to Mr Jonas by way of a leading question suggested to him and/or photos of me being shown to him, to enable him to conclude that he in fact met with me specifically and not with anyone else, where after he accepted and claimed that he in fact did have a meeting with me.”
Ajay has also criticised Jonas for claiming, for the first time during the inquiry, that he had threatened to kill him.
“In his version to the public protector he never had such claims, even when he was specifically questioned about any threats he may have received,” he said.