Former Transnet chief executive Brian Molefe has told the Zondo commission that he did not regret his close relations with the Guptas despite the evidence implicating them in criminal activities including alleged stealing in state-owned entities he had led.
Molefe was on Monday on the stand before the commission of inquiry into state capture where he was questioned on the role the Guptas and their associates had allegedly played in his appointment at Transnet and Eskom and the subsequent looting of funds through corruption and irregular contracts.
Molefe told the commission he was “captured by the constitution” in the belief of the innocence of the controversial Gupta family until proven guilty by the courts.
Asked by evidence leader advocate Anton Myburgh if he did not feel played and betrayed in his friendship with the Guptas, who have since fled the country to escape law enforcement agencies, Molefe said he had no regrets about having had close ties with the brothers, even if they played him.
“I don’t know that they played me. Maybe they did. Maybe they did not, but what I definitely feel is that there have been suggestions that I did things that are wrong and there has not been evidence to show what it is that I did wrong. I have no regrets that I knew the Guptas, that I had gone to the house and had spoken to them over the phone,” he said.
He said many other South Africans had enjoyed close ties with the Guptas.
“They may have done what they did but I was not part of it,” he said.
Molefe instead accused former protector Thuli Madonsela of having tarnished his reputation by fingering him in the allegations relating to Gupta criminal networks.
“I feel like somebody walked into the Gupta residence and then all they did was open fire and kill everything that was moving there when they did not ask what I am doing there. I feel like the public protector just went in there and opened fire,” he said.
Molefe told the commission that he would only feel betrayed by the Guptas if there was a conclusive finding of their criminal activities. “I suspect the thing that captured me is our constitution, that even the Guptas have rights in terms of our constitution,” he said.
Commission chairperson deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo pointed out that the Guptas could not be prosecuted as they had run away.
“You probably also know that they said in affidavits that were read out in open hearing of the commission that they would never come back to this country and they did not want to subject themselves to legal processes because they think the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority [NPA] were unfair to them,” Zondo said.
Molefe, however, insisted that fleeing the country before prosecution and a guilty verdict made the Gupta brothers innocent.