By ZINTLE MAHLATI |IOL|
Duduzane Zuma says former deputy minister of finance Mcebisi Jonas knew that he was being taken to the Gupta compound when they met to discuss rumours on October 23, 2015.
Zuma, the son of former president Jacob Zuma, was testifying at the state capture inquiry on Monday.
In a series of questions posed by evidence leader Advocate Philip Mokoena, he admitted that he met with Jonas on October 23, 2015, and he admitted that he was joined by businessman Fana Hlongwane. He also admitted that the meeting first took place at the Hyatt Hotel in Rosebank and then moved to the Gupta compound in Saxonwold.
Mokoena questioned Zuma on why he would choose to meet at the Gupta compound instead of his own home which was a 7-minute walk from the Gupta residence.
Zuma insisted that he never does business at his home and that he would on several occasions host business meetings at the Gupta residence.
He denied Jonas’ version that he was never told that the meeting would be taking place at the Gupta compound.
“So he just jumped in my car not knowing where he was going? He knew exactly where we were going and who we were going to meet and why,” Zuma said.
He was also questioned by deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo on why he chose the Gupta residence.
Zuma’s version of events stated that the meeting between him, Jonas and Hlongwane related to rumours that were circulating that Jonas had accused Hlongwane of blackmailing him.
Zuma said he decided he would break the ice between the two old friends by facilitating the meeting. This was besides the fact that he did not know Jonas personally and did not even have his cellphone-number.
Zondo was also curious as to why Zuma was the chosen facilitators instead of someone who knew the two men well.
“It is strange that Mr Hlongwane could not speak to Mr Jonas himself about these rumours or get someone if he can’t and he feels that he needs a third person. Why did he not think to get a third person who knew both of them?” Zondo asked.
Zuma said he took it upon himself to broker the meeting as a favour to his “uncle Fana”.
“I do not see it as strange that an unknown entity tries to facilitate a meeting. I have done this on numerous occasions. I am the one that raised the issue with uncle Fana,” Zuma said.
Zuma’s version differs from Jonas. Jonas, when he testified last year, insisted that he did not know he was being taken to the Gupta compound when he agreed to drive with Zuma to a different venue.
He also told the commission that when Zuma met him at the Hyatt Hotel he appeared distracted and recommended the venue change.
Jonas told the commission that at the Gupta residence one of the Gupta brothers joined them in a meeting with Zuma along with Hlongwane. He said he was offered R600 million if he took up the post of finance minister.
The inquiry continues.