President Jacob Zuma, his son Duduzane, the infamous Gupta family and others implicated in the state capture inquiry, could be forced to testify if the legal team at the inquiry has its way.
However, chairperson of the commission of inquiry Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo will reveal all on Tuesday after he hears full argument on the issue and makes a ruling.
At the inquiry on Monday, the legal team asked Zondo to force those who want to cross-examine witnesses who implicated them to also testify in person and to be subjected to cross-examination.
Advocate Vincent Maleka made the request after former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor‘s testimony.
“Privilege to cross-examine comes with responsibility and they should also be cross-examined to test their version,” Maleka argued.
Justice Zondo questioned whether those implicated were willing to put their “own version” before the commission.
“They need to put up their version… We must know what their version is,” Zondo said.
In her testimony on Monday, Mentor implicated Zuma‘s former aide in the presidency Lakela Kaunda, alleging that Kaunda ed her in 2010 and informed her that she would be meeting with Zuma in Johannesburg.
Kaunda previously refuted the claims and her lawyers have applied to Zondo to cross-examine Mentor.
Mentor said Kaunda‘s telephone call followed her failed attempts to meet with Zuma over the pebble bed modular reactor (PBMR) at the nuclear station in Phelindaba, outside Pretoria.
Mentor testified about her first meeting with the Gupta brothers. She said it was Duduzane Zuma who first introduced her to some of the family members on a plane to China.
When she arrived in Johannesburg to meet Zuma after the China trip, two of the brothers – Rajesh and Atul – dressed in “dark sunglasses and suits” and communicating with “two-way radios”, were holding a placard with her name on it.
She said they collected her in a luxurious twin cab and, instead of taking her to Zuma, she was driven to the Sahara Computers headquarters in Midrand.
It was there that she met the eldest of the brothers, Ajay.
She told the commission she assumed it was a “holding place” for her meeting with Zuma.
“I didn‘t imagine that the holding place would be a private home… I noticed there were a few houses and we stopped at the biggest of the houses, which was gigantic and it was like a mansion,” she said.
She gave extensive details of the décor inside the house and elicited some quips from the audience when she said she was offered “Indian curry and chai tea”, which she did not enjoy but accepted as a courtesy.
It was at the house that Ajay Gupta offered her the job of public enterprises minister on condition that she was going to drop the SAA Johannesburg-to-Mumbai route that would then be taken over by a Gupta company JetAirways.
“He [Ajay] said the president [Zuma] was going to reshuffle his Cabinet in [the] future and Barbara Hogan was going to be reshuffled and I could become minister in her place if I agree that once minister, I would abolish the SA-India route,” she said.
Mentor added that she was “shocked and astounded” that they could appoint her as minister and they knew of a Cabinet reshuffle when there were no media reports about it.
“He said I could be minister. I said: ‘How so?… He said they could put a word in for me with [the] president and when I expressed shock, he said: ‘We normally do,‘” she testified.
She added that the Guptas wanted the PBMR project to be shut down because it was “burning money”.
Nuclear build programme
She also testified that the Guptas wanted to provide uranium for the multimillion-rand nuclear build programme and because she was from the Northern Cape, she could “assist” them.
“He [Ajay] referred to the nuclear build programme that government was going to go with. They were going to be the main supplier of uranium and said the PBMR had to be closed, which is the issue I had come to see the president on.”
Mentor is expected to continue her testimony on Tuesday.