The United States had raised issues with South African authorities that the controversial Gupta household had been getting funds from Iran to purchase the Shiva Uranium Mine on this nation, in response to the ultimate report on an intensive judicial investigation into corruption.
The remaining report of the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, which was handed over to President Cyril Ramaphosa by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on Wednesday, claimed that efforts by the highest three officers on the State Security Agency (SSA) to research the Indian-origin Gupta household had been thwarted, allegedly by the then minister of the company, Siyabonga Cwele.
Under the management of Director General Jeff Maqetuka, Head of the Foreign Branch Moe Shaik and Head of the Domestic Branch Gibson Njenje, the SSA wished to conduct investigations into the Guptas, it stated.
The Commission handed over its remaining experiences to President Ramaphosa after a four-year investigation through which the three Gupta brothers – Ajay, Atul and Rajesh – featured prominently about their alleged looting of billions of rands from state enterprises, allegedly due to their closeness to former president Jacob Zuma.
Atul and Rajesh at the moment are believed to be in custody in Dubai, awaiting the finalisation of an extradition request by South Africa.
The total Gupta household, initially from Saharanpur in India, fled the nation when the online closed in on them as strain mounted on Zuma, who was finally ousted by his personal African National Congress that had appointed him to a second time period.
“In the Commission’s view, a strong case is made, … that there were deliberate efforts made … to capture national intelligence; furthermore, efforts were made to thwart investigations into the Guptas,” the report stated.
“As to what initially sparked curiosity within the Guptas, Ambassador Maqetuka confirms the proof by Mr Shaik and Mr Njenje that it arose as a result of the Americans had raised the priority that the Guptas had been getting funds from Iran to purchase the Shiva Uranium Mine.
“The second angle from which the necessity arose to research the Guptas, arose from the problem of (Transport) Minister (Fikile) Mbalula having stated that he was knowledgeable of his impending appointment as Minister by the Guptas even earlier than he was informed by the previous President.
“It needed to be investigated for two reasons according to Ambassador Maqetuka. Firstly, to them, for Minister Mbalula to be informed in advance by an outsider posed a serious security risk. Secondly, there was a need to protect the former President as that would tarnish his name,” the report stated.
“A further concern was that, by informing Minister Mbalula in advance of his appointment, the Guptas would be creating a dependency by Mr Mbalula on them as their advance knowledge of his appointment would make him feel beholden to them. This kind of undue influence over the Minister of Sport was serious, as the Guptas had interests in businesses that included cricket stadia,” the report added.
At one stage, the Guptas had tried to rename all the most important cricket stadiums in South Africa underneath their IT model, Sahara.
The Commission was additionally informed that Minister Susan Shabangu, then Minister of Mining, was summoned to a gathering with Ajay Gupta, which might have been held at a resort, however the venue was modified to the official residence of President, Mahlamba Ndlopfu, in Pretoria.
The ministerial delegation was ushered into the President’s research by Ajay Gupta, who allegedly pressured the minister into fast-tracking mineral rights for his firm.
“The fact that the meeting was held at the President’s official residence, and in his absence was, in Mr Njenje’s view, for the Guptas to show how powerful they were; to show a government minister that she could be called to the President’s study in his absence,” the report said.
The SSA heads did finally meet with Zuma to clarify the necessity to examine the Guptas due to the American concern and the problem regarding Mbalula’s appointment.
They conceded on the Commission that though Zuma by no means immediately instructed them to cease the investigation, it was clear from what he stated and his physique language that he disapproved of the investigation.
The Commission discovered that Zuma didn’t need the Guptas to be investigated.
“President Zuma defended his friendship with the Guptas and their close association with him. President Zuma said that there was no need to investigate the Guptas as they were “good folks” with whom he had a good relationship,” the report concluded.
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