WATCH | No CV? No problem! — Des van Rooyen grilled over hiring Gupta-linked adviser

Former minister of finance Des Van Rooyen testified at the state capture commission in Johannesburg, South Africa on August 11, 2020.
Former minister of finance Des Van Rooyen testified at the state capture commission in Johannesburg, South Africa on August 11, 2020.

Former finance minister Des van Rooyen, who held the office for four days in 2015, appeared at the state capture inquiry on Tuesday and brought some heated moments after a slow start to the day.

At the centre of evidence leader advocate Garth Hulley's case was Van Rooyen's appointment of two Gupta-linked advisers, Mohamed Bobat and Ian Whitley, immediately after he was sworn into office on December 10 2015 at the Union buildings.

“You met Bobat at a restaurant in 2009 ...," said Hulley. " ...[Bobat] told you he has certain qualifications; you've never seen his CV, you've never verified whether the information is correct. You then offer that person a job as the special adviser to the minister of finance?” queried Hulley.

Van Rooyen answered, “To add onto what you are saying, [Bobat was] someone who has demonstrated through my engagement with him, that he understands the subject matter. But also, I knew that besides me trusting him, I knew there was a process I would subject him to which is normally championed by the DPSA [department of public service & administration].”

State capture inquiry leader deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo then raised concerns that Van Rooyen knew Bobat was a senior employee at Regiments Capital, which at the time was alleged to have taken part in corruption and malfeasance.

“Yes, I knew about that but there weren't allegations against Bobat. If the allegations were against Bobat, I would have treated it differently,” said Van Rooyen.

“But you didn't know who at Regiments may have been involved in regards to those allegations,” said Zondo. “Without an investigation as to whether he and other people may have been involved, you wouldn't know whether later on he would be involved?”

“Definitely chair, that's why I employed the principle of trust that I had on him,” said Van Rooyen. “Of course, considering his qualifications, then I prioritised his identification [sic].”

“Of course the trust you had on him was based on that you had met this person only for the second time in your life,” said Zondo. “And you had only talked to him once or twice on the phone, that's all?”

“Yes,” said Van Rooyen.

Van Rooyen, who met the Guptas two months before his appointment, after Mcebisi Jonas declined the position offered to him by the family, said he was not appointed by the Guptas.

“The president is the only one empowered to appoint ministers, so there is no way that could have been done by other people.”

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