Guptas want Zondo to watch video of Saxonwold inspection

Atul Gupta at the bottom of the steps to his Saxonwold, Johannesburg home. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Atul Gupta at the bottom of the steps to his Saxonwold, Johannesburg home. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

The Gupta family, which is at the heart of state capture allegations, wants the Zondo commission of inquiry to view a video of the inspection of its Saxonwold home.

In December, investigators and evidence leaders for the commission carried out an on-site inspection of the Saxonwold compound with former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor.

This followed claims by Ajay Gupta that Mentor fabricated her evidence and falsely described the layout, interior and exterior of the property.

Mentor is back at the commission after giving evidence in 2018. She is completing her evidence and will be cross examined by lawyers for former president Jacob Zuma's son, Duduzane Zuma, and businessperson and former arms deal adviser Fana Hlongwane. 

Evidence leader Mahlape Sello said the commission investigated certain aspects of Mentor's evidence given in 2018, on which she would be questioned. In 2018, Mentor retracted her evidence to the commission that she had met Hlongwane on a 2010 flight with Duduzane Zuma.

Hlongwane had also been named by former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas as a witness to a Gupta brother's attempts to bribe and threaten him into taking the finance minister position.

Mentor’s lawyers said she conceded that she may have been wrong.

The Guptas had applied to the commission to cross-examine Mentor but their application was denied because they would not appear before the commission themselves. 

Mike Hellens SC, for the Guptas, told deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, who is chairing the commission, on Monday that the Guptas had hired their own videographer, who recorded the entire in-loco inspection of their home. 

He has asked the commission to watch the video, which he says is not edited. 

Zondo, however, did not seem keen to watch hours of the video. He asked whether it would be possible for someone who was at the inspection to testify about whether the features that Mentor said she had seen were, in fact, there. 

Hellens, however, said the video called Mentor's credibility into sharp focus. He said that by watching the video, the commission would be able to see the expression on her face and her loss of words during the inspection. 

Zondo said he would not yet make a decision on whether the Guptas' video should be admitted to the commission.

An emotional Mentor took exception to what she said was an attack on her credibility and character by Hellens.