Vytjie Mentor describes her encounter with Zuma at Gupta home

President was 'demeaning and not respectful', says former ANC MP

#StateCaptureInquiry: Mentor describes her encounter with Zuma at Gupta's Saxonwold home

28 August 2018

Former president Jacob Zuma did not address the issue of the Guptas offering former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor a ministerial job, but instead tried to calm her down, the commission of inquiry into state capture heard on Tuesday.

Mentor continued with her testimony on day five of the inquiry headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. She said that Zuma was more interested in her regaining her composure than in the fact that the Guptas had offered her a Cabinet post.

She detailed her encounter with Zuma at the Gupta compound in Saxonwold in 2010, weeks ahead of a reshuffle in which public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan was fired.

Mentor told the commission that Zuma had walked in while she was in an altercation with the eldest of the Gupta brothers, Ajay, after she rejected the offer of a Cabinet position in exchange for dropping the SAA Johannesburg-Mumbai route in favour of Gupta airline JetAirways.

"I felt that he was not paying attention to issues I was bringing to him, and I felt that he was finding issue with my agitation and anger, and that further frustrated me," she said.

Mentor said she then decided to leave for the airport, as Zuma was not engaging on the issue.

"Then I told the president that I am leaving because the atmosphere was inexplicable to me and… it was like I was the one who was the mad party... the president was not engaging with the issues I was raising," she said.

'He was demeaning and not respectful'

The commission is investigating fraud and corruption and allegations of undue influence by the Gutpas on the Zuma administration.

Mentor also revealed that Zuma's son Duduzane was living within the compound.

She said Zuma explained this after Ajay offered him food, but he had said that he would eat "next door".

Mentor also took exception to how Ajay reacted to the president.

She accused him of being disrespectful by failing to stand up when Zuma walked into the room, and how he had failed to address Zuma as president when he offered him food.

"He asked in a tone I did not like. It struck me that when the president came in, he did not rise. He was demeaning and not respectful when he asked what he wanted to eat," Mentor said.

Mentor was cross-examined over her claim that it was Zuma's former aide, Lakela Kaunda, who had called her to inform her about the meeting with Zuma.

Inconsistencies in statement

Kaunda has submitted an affidavit, denying that she had called Mentor. Kaunda insists in her affidavit that she never spoke to Mentor during that year.

In her affidavit, Kaunda also pointed to inconsistencies in a statement Mentor gave the police when she laid a charge of corruption against Zuma, ministers and chairs of SOE boards.

However, Mentor explained that the police’s typed version of her statement differed from her hand-written statement.

She said she has been looking for her original hand-written statement for two years, with police and the Hawks failing to give her the document.

The document was handed over to the commission on Monday.

Earlier on Tuesday, Zondo said applications to cross-examine witnesses would be deferred for now.

He dealt with three applications: From Kaunda, the Hawks' Zinhle Mnonopi and Mandla Mtolo – who were implicated by Mentor – and the former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas.

Zondo said that Mike Hellens, for Ajay Gupta, had indicated that that they had received instructions to apply for leave to cross-examine. The applications are expected to to be filed on Friday.