Siyabonga Gama was 'ambushed' into meeting the Guptas at home

11 March 2021 - 13:15
By mawande amashabalala AND Mawande AmaShabalala
Former Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama at the state capture inquiry in Johannesburg on March 11 2021.
Image: ALON SKUY​ Former Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama at the state capture inquiry in Johannesburg on March 11 2021.

It was none other than Gupta foot soldier Salim Essa who took former Transnet boss Siyabonga Gama to the controversial family's residence in Saxonwold.

This, Gama told the Zondo commission on Thursday, was how he was first introduced to the Guptas in November 2015.

According to Gama, he had first met Essa at a Transnet event with Regiments Capital, with which Essa was involved.

The second encounter was at the Transnet offices when Gama went to then Transnet CFO Anoj Singh's office, only to find Essa there.

At Singh's office, Essa expressed an intention to meet Gama and he agreed, saying Essa could get his contact numbers from Singh.

Days later, Essa contacted Gama, saying he was ready to meet and provided him with a location.

The GPS led Gama to the Gupta home. Essa was waiting outside and they both walked inside into what “looked like a boardroom”. 

After exchanging a few pleasantries, said Gama, in walked an Indian man who was introduced to him as Tony Gupta.

“We had a discussion. He [Gupta] was indicating to me that they had followed my career at Transnet. He said I had done very well,” said Gama.

“He said they had businesses and that at some point we must have a discussion on how Transnet can co-operate with those businesses. 

“I was a bit annoyed. The first thing is that I had thought I was going to meet Mr Essa at his offices and we were actually at the boardroom of the Guptas' residence. Had he told me we were going to somebody’s home, I probably would not have agreed.”

Gama said he lambasted Essa when they walked out for ambushing him.

“I expressed my dissatisfaction that he should not ambush me, because I thought he wanted to talk business. He said he thought it would be good for me and Transnet because this family do a lot of business and they are influential.” 

Months later, Gama, en route from the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, met Essa in Dubai.

After Dubai, Gama would see Essa at a restaurant, their last encounter.