Gigaba implemented Gupta’s India flight route plan, says ex ANC MP Mentor

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JOHANNESBURG, August 27 – Following her turning down a promotion to public enterprises minister and cancelling the SA Airways (SAA) India route, now Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba was appointed to the post and SAA cancelled the route immediately with the Gupta family’s preferred airline, Jet Airways taking over, former African National Congress (ANC) member of Parliament (MP) Vytjie Mentor told the state capture commission of inquiry.

Mentor testified on Monday, about the allegations she made in 2016 against former president Jacob Zuma, the Gupta brothers and government officials who did the bidding for the fugitive family, leading to the Guptas amassing at least R6 billion in questionable contracts with state-owned enterprises.

Ajay Gupta had told her that the then public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan would be fired through a cabinet reshuffle, and that she could take over if she agrees to do away with SAA’s India route.

“I began to question his capacity to make me a minister, and even know that there would be a cabinet reshuffle. He then said he could put in word in for me to the president, I reacted with shock, and he replied “we normally do that”,” she said.

Mentor then inquired from Ajay about SAA’s India route and was told that SAA’s turn around strategy was not working and that the national carrier was bleeding money.

“I asked him how will all the people who travel to and from India and everyday cargo be transported…he said they [Guptas] had a good relationship with Jet Airways who will ensure that the flight route continues. Hogan was then fired and replaced by Gigaba…and immediately after that, the SAA stopped flying to India and Jet Airways took over the route.”

On Friday, former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas testified that he was also called to the Gupta compound in Saxon wold where he was offered R600 million cash by the Guptas if he accepted a promotion to finance minister to take over from Nhlanhla Nene in 2015. He told the commission that he was offered R600,000 upfront to take home and was asked if he had a bag to carry the cash. He said he turned down the ministerial offer and left.

Member of the commission’s legal team Vincent Maleka said several legal representatives of those implicated by witnesses have applied to the commission to be allowed to cross-examine witnesses. Maleka said former Zuma aide Lakela Kaunda said she never contacted Mentor in 2010 to meet with the Guptas as Mentor testified on Monday.

Maleka referred to the commission rules and argued that those who want witnesses cross-examined must also appear to give their own version of events. (ANA)