Ajay Gupta only willing to testify in state capture inquiry from Dubai

02 September 2018 - 00:00 By KARYN MAUGHAN
Ajay Gupta wants to testify at the state capture commission via video link because he does not trust SA law enforcement agencies.
Ajay Gupta wants to testify at the state capture commission via video link because he does not trust SA law enforcement agencies.
Image: SUNDAY TIMES

Ajay Gupta has said he won't return to SA to testify at the state capture commission of inquiry but is prepared to give his version via video link.

The Guptas' lawyers have told the inquiry legal team the family patriarch, described by the Hawks as a "fugitive from justice", is only prepared to testify via video link from Dubai. This is because of the "mistrust he harbours" towards South African law enforcement, his lawyers told the Sunday Times.

But there are already indications that the inquiry's heavyweight legal team - which includes advocates Vincent Maleka SC and Paul Pretorius SC - will oppose Gupta's bid to give evidence outside of SA, on the basis that the commission cannot be seen to give "special treatment" to a fugitive.

Maleka made it clear last week he would argue that any implicated party who sought to cross-examine inquiry witnesses must themselves be prepared to testify at the inquiry and have their claims "tested".

Should the commission decide not to hear Gupta's testimony via video link, or allow him to cross-examine witnesses, it will effectively prohibit the family from giving their side of the story on the allegations against them, which they dispute.

If Ajay Gupta sets foot in SA, we will arrest him
Hawks spokesperson Brig Hangwani Mulaudzi

Attorney Rudi Krause yesterday told the Sunday Times that Ajay Gupta "intends to participate" in the inquiry and "to apply to the commission to cross-examine witnesses and test the veracity of their allegations and evidence through effective cross-examination. At the moment it would seem as if the evidence leaders may oppose such an application or contend that the cross-examination be subject to certain conditions.

"In addition, our client's participation as a witness himself is dependent on him participating from outside of the Republic of SA due to the mistrust he harbours towards the National Prosecuting Authority and the South African Police Service. These issues may well be argued early next week."

That "mistrust" relates to repeated failed attempts by Gupta's lawyers to establish what exactly the Hawks want to charge him for, and to obtain a copy of the warrant reportedly issued for his arrest earlier this year.

Hawks spokesperson Brig Hangwani Mulaudzi has confirmed that an arrest warrant was issued for Gupta in February, but he declined to identify what charges Gupta faced.

"If he sets foot in SA, we will arrest him," he said. "We stand by our statement that he is a fugitive from justice."

It is understood that the Hawks have also refused requests by the inquiry to disclose what charges Ajay and other Gupta family members are facing, on the basis that doing so could compromise their investigations.

The inquiry did not respond to requests for comment.

More shocking information emerged in the second week of the state capture inquiry, during which former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor, former Government Communication and Information System head Themba Maseko and acting GCIS head Phumla Williams gave their testimonies. Here’s what you need to know from this week. Music: Turn On - RW Smith https://youtu.be/EzIBvLO8V9s


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