Gigaba knew Gupta brothers, but says he had no business dealings with them
'As I say, I had no business dealings. Whatever interactions with them were just social,' former minister Malusi Gigaba said
Former minister Malusi Gigaba said on Friday he did have interactions with the Gupta family as far back as the early 2000s, but these were of a social and cultural nature.
Gigaba, testifying before the state capture inquiry, said he used to be invited to various social and cultural events, which he attended. He maintained that he had no business dealings with the controversial family.
“You would understand that coming from KwaZulu-Natal, some of these events are quite popular for people living in Durban. Besides the great meals that are offered, there would be various other religious things. As a gesture of support for a cultural and religious function, one would attend,” he said.
Gigaba said it did not matter how many times one met with an acquaintance but what one did with the acquaintance.
“As I say, I had no business dealings. Whatever interactions with them were just social. I did not deliver anything. I just did my work. I am also quite a stubborn person.”
When asked by the evidence leader whether there was a time he made a conscious effort to no longer attend the Guptas' social events, Gigaba said this had happened around 2014.
“I scaled down on the interactions. I would not say it was a conscious effort. On my part I was very busy,” he said, adding that ANC election campaign commitments that year had taken up much of his time.
Gigaba said he never had a private meeting with Salim Essa, a businessman linked with the Guptas.
“I only met Mr Salim Essa after their appointment on the board of Broadband Infraco when the board was being introduced to me as shareholder.”
He explained that Broadband Infraco was one of those companies under the department of public enterprises, which he was minister of at the time.
Gigaba admitted it was during his tenure as minister of public enterprises that Transnet acquired 1,064 locomotives.
“The evidence that has been led and that will be led by the money-flow stream is to the effect that, if it is to be accepted, the Guptas pulled a big heist at Transnet. To date they have been paid some R3.5bn in kickbacks that were laundered to the Gupta enterprise,” evidence leader Anton Myburgh SC said.
Gigaba said he had heard about the evidence during the commission processes.
“I was not involved in the procurement of the locomotives.”
Gigaba said when he became minister, the decision to procure the locomotives had already been taken.
Myburgh said Essa was involved in a number of transactions during the acquisition process which gained him millions.
When asked to comment, Gigaba said he was not privy to to Essa's involvement in these locomotive procurement processes.
“My understanding is that it was the board that was involved in the process. My communication was directly with the chair of the board of Transnet and the minister of finance.
“Insofar as the involvement of Mr Essa I was not aware of it. I am only hearing of it through the commission's processes.”