JOHANNESBURG- Gupta family member Ajay Gupta has come out guns blazing and challenged witness testimonies in the Eskom Inquiry in Parliament.
Records in the possession of Africa News24-7 have exposed lies that have been presented as fact with Ajay poking holes in the testimony of suspended Eskom head of legal Suzanne Daniels. Gupta family lawyer Ahmed Gani has submitted the letter to the commission with Ajay calling Daniels a liar and accusing her of misleading the commission.
Gani told the commission chairperson Zukiswa Rantho that his client was willing to testify and correct the misinformation being given by some of the witnesses.
In the letter, Ajay indicates that documents before the Inquiry wrongly implicate him and the Gupta family falsely in relation to corporate governance failures at Eskom. He refuted Daniel’s claims that they had a meeting in June where he wanted to influence a Deputy Judge President.
“Ms. Daniels falsely stated on oath that she met Mr Gupta on 29 July 2017 in Melrose Arch, and that Mr Gupta made statements suggesting that he would seek to influence a Deputy Judge President in respect of the scheduling of a court hearing, no less. When challenged about the truth of her testimony, Ms Daniels made a statement to the press that she stands by what she said to the Inquiry,” he said in the letter seen by Africa New24-7.
It further indicated that on November 15 there was a correspondence between himself, the Speaker of Parliament and the National Prosecuting Authority, proving that he was not in the country on the day the meeting allegedly took place.
“He provided to Parliament supporting evidence in the form of an exit stamp on his passport, the flight records of his aircraft and a publicly available video showing him giving a speech at a religious festival in India on the very day he is alleged to have met Ms. Daniels. This is but an example of the many matters on which the inquiry has received false testimony. It highlights the need for the inquiry to exercise extreme caution in sifting facts and testing allegations. It further highlights the need to provide all persons who are accused before the inquiry to be given a meaningful opportunity to refute those allegations,” the letter read.
In her testimony, Daniels claimed that she met with Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises Ben Martins, Ajay Gupta, Salim Essa and Duduzane Zuma in a flat near Melrose Arch. The meeting was to discuss the court case of former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe. Africa News24-7 has copies of his passport and flight information for the day in question, proving he was not in the country.
The Gupta family has been at the centre of controversy in the country with allegations of state capture and unduly benefiting from government deals at the forefront. The family was heavily fingered in former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report. Former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas claimed he was offered a large sum of money by the family to replace Nhlanhla Nene before he was even removed from the position by President Jacob Zuma.
Gani’s letter stated that Ajay has refrained to date from public statements about the work of the Inquiry or related matters concurrently before the courts but his name has been dragged through the mud.
“He has done so in deference to Parliament and the judiciary, and to the prejudice of his name and reputation and that of his family members. He has no recourse in law to protect his name and reputation because the proceedings are protected by parliamentary privilege. The inquiry has, as we understand it, been advised of the fundamental procedural rights of those who may be subject to adverse findings by the inquiry. The inquiry has also received advice to invite interested parties to at the very least make an input in writing. Submissions should be sifted and analysed and if necessary parties should then be heard orally,” Gani said in the letter.
Ajay indicated that he would avail himself to testify but requested the commission to send him questions in advance. The lawyers said any attempt to conclude the business of the inquiry or to prepare any report, draft or final, without giving him the opportunity to provide written input would render the inquiry unfair.