Mentor names Gupta ‘facilitator’ as Kaunda
Zuma’s former advisor, contesting the claim, says they never even spoke
Jacob Zuma’s former trusted advisor Lakela Kaunda is being accused of facilitating a meeting between state capture whistleblower Vytjie Mentor and the infamous Gupta family.
In a statement submitted to the Zondo inquiry into state capture, Mentor for the first time names Kaunda as the person who called her in 2010 to arrange the meeting at their Saxonwold compound.
Kaunda, previously the former president’s chief of staff and spokesperson, is contesting Mentor’s claim. She has a legal team at the commission, which kicked off in Johannesburg on Monday.
Mentor claims to the commission, chaired by deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, that Kaunda phoned her to summon her to a meeting. She says she made the trip from Cape Town in Johannesburg in the belief that her meeting was with Zuma.
Kaunda’s legal team intend to argue that she has never even spoken to Mentor, let alone arranged the meeting.
Mentor, a former ANC MP, is scheduled to testify that prior to a cabinet reshuffle in October 2010, members of the Gupta family offered her the position of public enterprises minister on condition that she ensured the cancellation of the SAA India route.
Mentor says the meeting took place at the Guptas’ Saxonwold compound, and Zuma was in the next room at the time.Mentor made the allegations in 2016 after former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas claimed the Guptas offered to promote him to finance minister and offered him a R600m bribe.
In evidence given to former public protector Thuli Madonsela during her State of Capture inquiry, Mentor said the meeting with the Guptas was arranged by a staffer in the presidency. Madonsela’s report does not mention the name of the staffer.
In an affidavit to the North Gauteng High court in 2016, Mentor also did not identify who called her. The affidavit was filed at the time to oppose Zuma’s bid to prevent the release of Madonsela’s report.
Mentor told Madonsela that she was met at OR Tambo International Airport by two unknown men who drove her first to Sahara Computers and then to the Gupta home in Saxonwold. Mentor said she declined the offer of the cabinet post. Zuma then walked into the room. “She stated ‘The president was not angry that she declined the offer. He apparently said to her in Zulu, something like ‘it’s okay Ntombazane [girl] ... take care of yourself”.”
Last year the Sunday Times reported how the Guptas tried to do several business deals with Kaunda. At the time she admitted to several meetings with Tony Gupta in Saxonwold but said she was “not engaged in any business relationship with the Gupta family”.
“I am not captured,” Kaunda said at the time...