Alleged Gupta attempt to bribe ex SAA boss: Testimony at Zondo commission reveals Sunday Times was right

08 February 2020 - 16:36 By TimesLIVE
Former SAA executive Vuyisile Kona was showered with praise for being a 'smart man' the first time he met Tony Gupta. But the mood changed when Kona rejected a R100,000 'welcome to the family' which was soon upped to R500,000. File image
Former SAA executive Vuyisile Kona was showered with praise for being a 'smart man' the first time he met Tony Gupta. But the mood changed when Kona rejected a R100,000 'welcome to the family' which was soon upped to R500,000. File image
Image: PUXLEY MAKGATHO/Business Day

A former SAA chairperson this week told the Zondo commission about Tony Gupta’s alleged attempt to bribe him in late October 2012.

Testifying at the Zondo commission Vuyisile Kona alleged he was offered a R500,000 bribe at the family’s Saxonwold compound.

The Sunday Times broke the story of the alleged bribe on the front page of the March 17 2013 edition with the headline 'Guptas tried to buy SAA boss'.

The Gupta brothers vehemently denied the allegation and gave notice of their intention to sue the newspaper for R500m. Nothing ever came of the legal action.

The Sunday Times broke the story of the alleged bribe on the front page of its March 17 2013 edition.
The Sunday Times broke the story of  the alleged bribe on the front page of its March 17 2013 edition.
Image: File image

Kona told the commission this week that once he had arrived in Saxonwold his phone was taken away, and he was led to a room. Present were Tony Gupta, Jacob Zuma's son Duduzane Zuma, ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule's son Tshepiso Magashule and Siyabonga Mahlangu — then an adviser to former minster of public enterprises Malusi Gigaba.

Kona told the commission that Mahlangu had repeatedly insisted that he visit “some people” or “certain stakeholders”. Puzzled by the requests, he said he tried to avoid the subject but eventually relented.

“It still haunts me today, I found it strange that an adviser to the minister would call me to an individual's house.” He said he didn’t know of the Guptas at the time.

After tea and pleasantries Tony Gupta took R100,000 cash from a drawer and offered it to him, saying, “Before we continue I have to welcome you into the family.”

Kona said he refused the money and Gupta then offered him R500,000, which he again refused.

“My father always taught me there was no free lunch in this world,” he said.

He left the compound shortly afterwards.

Kona  told the inquiry his work environment changed after the meeting and at times he started to feel like a “hunted animal”.

He was suspended for “spurious reasons” on February 11 2013.


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