Ajay Gupta slams Vytjie Mentor testimony – ‘Our family will never eat chopped up lamb’
In a 42-page affidavit before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture‚ Ajay disputes several claims Mentor made in her testimony:
He denies offering her the job of public enterprises minister‚ saying his family never had an interest in Jet Airlines‚ which Mentor claims was the basis for Ajay offering her the post.
He was responding to Mentor’s evidence where she said: “If I agree to facilitate that SAA doesn’t fly that route (Johannesburg to Mumbai) any more‚ then I could become the minister of public enterprises…I asked him: how so?” Ajay says: “Neither I nor any of the entities in which I have an interest ever had a partnership with an airline‚ let alone one that could take over the South Africa-India route.” Mentor claimed Ajay Gupta then told her that former president Jacob Zuma would reshuffle his cabinet‚ including then minister Barbara Hogan.
He denies she met with Zuma at his family’s Saxonwold home‚ as she testified‚ and attached photographs of the notorious compound to his affidavit to prove this.
Ajay says her evidence that she was offered mutton curry during her alleged 2010 meeting with him – during which she says he offered her the post of minister of public enterprises – cannot be true. “We are of the Hindu religion and maintain a strictly vegetarian diet. It is anathema to suggest that meat of any form let alone in the form of chopped up sheep would be allowed to enter our home‚ let alone enter our kitchen and form part of a meal prepared and served in our home‚” he states.
He denies her evidence before the commission that he wears a “pointing finger” ring.
He also shoots down Mentor’s claims that his brothers arrived to pick her up from OR Tambo International Airport‚ carrying a placard with her name on it and wearing dark glasses. “In fact‚ neither my brother‚ Atul‚ who was the chairman of our group of companies at the time nor my brother Rajesh have ever undertaken the basic function of fetching people from the airport‚ let alone brandishing a placard bearing the name of any person‚ nor did they wear telecommunications earpieces… together with dark glasses and suits such as which security people wear‚” he said.
He further denies the family had ever owned a black twin-cab bakkie‚ the vehicle that Mentor claims the brothers fetched her with.
“Significant cross-examination will be necessary”‚ Ajay states‚ after pointing out that there were “substantial disputes” between Mentor’s testimony and the Guptas’ response to it.
Ajay does however admit that he and his brother Rajesh “attended the events forming part” of Zuma’s state visit to China in 2010.
“We did so‚ together with other delegates from our group of companies…My team’s business meetings were arranged by the consulting company Cadiz and were not part of the state visit programme.”
Ajay also confirms that Zuma’s son‚ Duduzane‚ attended the state visit “on behalf of his company Mabangela”.
But he denies Mentor’s evidence that Duduzane introduced his brother Rajesh‚ as well as controversial Arms Deal advisor Fana Hlongwane‚ to her on a flight to China.
He also disputes that the Guptas were‚ or claimed to be‚ part of Zuma’s “advance team” to China‚ or were in any way involved in his security or logistics arrangements.
“We were businessmen taking part in the state visit for the same purpose as all other businessmen who were taking part in the state visit”.
Ajay’s application for cross-examination was dismissed. It is the first time his affidavit regarding Mentor and also former government communications head Themba Maseko has been released to the public.
Turning to Maseko‚ Ajay also denies trying to bully him into channelling government’s R600-million advertising budget to Gupta media companies.
“I deny that I claimed to be able to discipline any government official who failed to carry out my demands‚” he states‚ adding that he knew “nothing of and was not involved in (in the event that it took place) any phone call made by then president Jacob Zuma to Mr Maseko on the day he came to see me at Saxonwold”.
Maseko testified that Zuma had asked him‚ during that call‚ to “help” the Guptas.
Ajay says he did meet Maseko but the purpose of the meeting was “to get clarity on the policies and practices of the GCIS in the awarding of (government) advertising”.