Mcebisi Jonas responds to Ajay Gupta’s denial of meeting with him

Deputy Minister of Finance Mcebisi Jonas has taken on Ajay Gupta in a replying affidavit that dispels an allegation that he lied about a 2015 meeting that took place at the Gupta residence in Saxonwold

“I … met Mr Ajay Gupta at his Saxonwold residence on 23 October 2015 and … he did speak to me on that day,” said Jonas.

The purported meeting is a major puzzle piece in allegations that the Guptas are guilty of state capture through their influence over their close friend President Jacob Zuma.

The meeting – in which Jonas was allegedly offered the job of Finance Minister – would have occurred just over a month before Nhlanhla Nene was fired as Finance Minister and replaced for a few days by Des van Rooyen (who was then dumped for Pravin Gordhan).

READ MORE: We’ve never met with Mcebisi Jonas: Guptas

In an affidavit last Friday, Ajay Gupta denied meeting Jonas and called him “blatantly dishonest”.

The tit-for-tat affidavits stacking up form part of a court case between Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Gupta-owned Oakbay Investments over its blacklisted bank accounts. The hearing is set to be heard on 28 March.

Gupta got Duduzane Zuma, one of the president’s sons, as well as Fana Hlongwane, who were at a meeting with Jonas that day, to swear in separate affidavits that he was not there.

Both these affidavits have a typing error that shows the meeting was held in October 2017.

In the affidavit filed by Jonas on Thursday, he pointed out that both these affidavits “confirm explicitly that the meeting indeed occurred”.

“All that they seek to do is to ‘confirm that Mr Ajay Kumar Gupta was not present’ during the ’25 October 2017 meeting. “Even if one is to understand the reference to be 25 October 2015 (instead of 2017), then the confirmatory affidavits remain materially defective,” said Jonas.

“This is because as I have stated and the Public Protector’s report records, the relevant meeting occurred on 23 October 2015.

“Therefore, the absence of Mr Ajay Gupta at a meeting two days later, on 25 October 2015, fails to confirm the necessary allegation. In any event… the key issue is that the meeting… took place at the Saxonwold compound shared by the Gupta brothers and their families and that a Gupta brother was present.”
Jonas pointed out that the bank’s affidavit referred to his previous testimony that he met with “members of the Gupta family”.

READ MORE: Hawks deny targeting Jonas, Mantashe and Mkhize

He clarified this, saying he had previously not met or seen the Guptas and relied on images of them in the media.

“I did not previously encounter either of these two brothers (Ajay and Atul Gupta). I am only able to identify them from photos and footage in the media,” he said.

“Therefore, even were Mr Ajay Gupta’s allegations which merely seek to absent himself from the meeting (but without explaining why the meeting was held at the Gupta residence, or suggesting that he was unaware that it would be held there or authorised that the Gupta residence be used for this purpose) to be truthful, which I deny, then the primary fact regarding the members of the Gupta family remains common cause.”

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