I met with Jonas but did not bribe him‚ says Duduzane Zuma
Former president Jacob Zuma's son‚ Duduzane‚ says he met with former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas to discuss “blackmail” rumours – and has denied that he witnessed a Gupta brother threaten and try to bribe him.
Duduzane is the only person who has been criminally charged in connection with Jonas’s claims that a Gupta brother‚ who he initially identified as Ajay but later said may be Rajesh‚ offered him R600-million to take over as finance minister and do the Gupta family’s bidding.
He also claimed that this Gupta brother threatened to kill him if he revealed the alleged bribe offer – this within earshot of Duduzane and controversial Arms Deal advisor Fana Hlongwane.
Duduzane admits meeting with Jonas‚ but says he and Hlongwane – who he has described as an “uncle” – did so to address certain unidentified blackmail claims allegedly made by Jonas.
“Rumours were surfacing in general that Mr Jonas allegedly claimed that Mr Hlongwane blackmailed him [Jonas] in some or other manner. These rumours were regarded as very serious.
“When these rumours started to surface‚ Mr Hlongwane‚ in discussion with me‚ decided to set up a meeting with Mr Jonas in an attempt to clear it up‚ as Mr Jonas also in his discussions with Mr Hlongwane wanted to know from me directly where these rumours were spreading or coming from‚” he stated in an affidavit filed at the Zondo Commission.
He said that the trio agreed to meet at the Hyatt hotel in Rosebank on October 23 2015. Duduzane said Hlongwane had‚ however‚ telephonically asked to move the meeting to a “private venue of our choice”‚ and he and Jonas agreed to do so.
According to Duduzane‚ “Mr Jonas requested to rather travel with me in my car‚ leaving his bodyguards behind at the Hyatt Hotel.”
He further claims Jonas did not object to the meeting being moved.
Duduzane said he played the role of spectator and “mediator” at the Saxonwold meeting‚ and claims that – during discussions between Jonas and Hlongwane – Rajesh Gupta briefly entered the room to talk to him.
Rajesh has identified himself as the only Gupta brother who was at Saxonwold when Jonas claims he was the target of the attempted bribe.
But Rajesh insists he never even spoke to Jonas‚ and only briefly walked into the room where Jonas was meeting with Duduzane and Hlongwane. He did so‚ he says‚ to check on Duduzane’s availability for the following day.
“I did not introduce myself to anybody‚ nor did I participate in that meeting. I did not have any discussion with Mr Jonas at all‚” he stated in an affidavit filed as part of his failed application to cross examine Jonas.
Duduzane has backed up Rajesh’s account. He also says that‚ during the meeting‚ both Jonas and Hlongwane “ventilated and discussed the rumours of the blackmail allegations and eventually reached a stage where‚ although it was not fully resolved‚ the ‘dust’ settled between them‚ so to speak‚ and they agreed that should any further issues arise‚ that they would arrange further follow-up meetings.
Duduzane says he is unsure of whether the dispute between Jonas and Hlongwane was fully resolved. But he is adamant that the meeting between the pair did not involve any offer of a Ministerial position by the Gupta family‚ or any attempted bribe or death threat.
According to Duduzane‚ he had seen Jonas twice after the meeting‚ and his interactions with him were “friendly”.
The Commission has yet to set a date for when Duduzane and Hlongwane’s lawyers will cross-examine Jonas on their accounts of the meeting.