Van Rooyen misled Parliament about visit to Gupta compound: Public Protector

Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Des Van Rooyen. Picture Credit: Gallo Images
Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Des Van Rooyen. Picture Credit: Gallo Images

The Public Protector says Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des van Rooyen lied to parliament when he denied visiting the Gupta’s compound in Saxonwold in the run-up to his appointment as finance minister in 2015.

The Democratic Alliance lodged a complaint with the Public Protector’s office in October 2016.

Van Rooyen was asked a question in Parliament in 2016 on whether he‚ since taking office‚ had ever met any member of the Gupta family. In his reply Van Rooyen said: “The Minister and his Deputy Ministers have never met with members‚ employees and/or close associates of the Gupta family in their official capacities.”

The Public Protector had to determine whether Van Rooyen’s response to the question in Parliament was deliberately misleading.

The Public Protector in her report dated February 9‚ found that Van Rooyen deliberately made a misleading statement to the National Assembly when he replied to the questions about ever having met with and visited the residence of the Gupta family since taking office.

The Public Protector said cellphone records obtained in the State of Capture report showed that calls were made from his cellphone from within the Saxonwold area in the weeks after his appointment as minister of finance.

In his reply to the Public Protector‚ Van Rooyen admitted meeting the Guptas in his capacity as the treasurer gerneral of the Umkhonto We Sizwe Military Veterans Association.

The Public Protector recommended that the President act against Van Rooyen within 30 days and that the report is tabled in the National Assembly within 14 days of the President receiving the report.

“The complaint that Minister Van Rooyen deliberately made a misleading statement to the National Assembly when he replied to the question of ever having met with and visited the residence of the Gupta family since taking office‚ is substantiated‚” the Public Protector said in her report dated February 9.

The DA’s shadow minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs‚ Kevin Mileham‚ said the DA had also written to Parliament’s House Chairperson‚ Cedric Frolick‚ to implore him to compel the Portfolio Committee for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to institute a formal inquiry into the extent of state capture in the department.

Mileham said repeated requests to the committee’s chairman Richard Mdakane had been routinely ignored.

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