Zuma tells inquiry of death threats against him, family

The Chronicle

Former president Jacob Zuma has told the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture that death threats have been made against him and his children, following his appearance on Monday.

Zuma kicked off proceedings yesterday morning by telling inquiry chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo that his PA had received a phone call on Monday between 19:00 and 20:00.

“This person said, ‘you must tell Zuma we are going to kill him, and we are going to kill his children and the people around him’,” Zuma told the commission.

Former president Jacob Zuma has told the state capture commission on inquiry that there has been a conspiracy against him since the 1990s.

He said this followed threats made against his senior counsel, advocate Muzi Sikhakhane, a week or so ago.

Zuma said he has lost a child before and that the commission should know that “my life, and my children, [and] lawyers are under threat”.

Zondo said the threats were “totally” unacceptable, adding that lawyers should feel free to represent their clients.

“It is totally unacceptable that any threats should be made to anybody, and more so when those threats are made to or concerning a person who is giving evidence to this commission.

“It is totally unacceptable for anyone to want to use violence to want to engage in all kinds of illegal means when they are unhappy about anybody…

Our legal system is such that people can go to courts, can go to the police if they have complaints against other people.”

Meanwhile, Zuma has denied the Gupta family had any influence in the appointment of his Cabinet ministers.

Zuma said this during his testimony at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture yesterday.

Advocate Paul Pretorius SC questioned the former statesman on former MP Vytjie Mentor’s testimony.

Mentor had testified she was offered the public enterprises ministry by the Guptas if she agreed to close down the South African Airways India route.

She also claimed Zuma was in the room when this happened.

In his response, Zuma said he knew nothing about Mentor’s conversation with Ajay Gupta, saying it was a discussion between the two.

He also denied ever being in the Gupta compound at Saxonwold.

When Zondo asked if the Gupta family was ever consulted in the appointment of any Cabinet ministers, Zuma simply said no.

“Ajay was not part of [the] government. He was not even part of [the] people who normally get consulted. He shouldn’t have known.

“I consult very selected and few people. I always consult. At no stage could I do a reshuffle with people not knowing.”

He told Zondo these people normally included the ANC top six as well as leaders from senior alliance partners Cosatu and the SACP.

Zuma’s Cabinet reshuffle during his terms as state president caused tensions in the alliance as well as the ANC top six.
During his time as head of state, Zuma reshuffled his Cabinet 11 times.

Two of his controversial reshuffles included the axing of former finance minister Pravin Gordhan, as well as the replacement of finance minister Nhlahla Nene with relatively unknown Des van Rooyen.

The ANC top six at the time publicly lambasted this move, saying they had not been consulted.

In August, Mentor testified before the commission that Transnet had booked her a first-class ticket to China on Emirates via Dubai.

She said Duduzane Zuma was on board the flight, adding he had introduced her to Rajesh Gupta, businessman Fana Hlongwane and another unknown man of Indian descent.

Mentor said Rajesh Gupta told her during the introduction that one of his brothers was already in China as part of the advance team in charge of logistics.

However, in her letter, Mentor would later issue an apology to Hlongwane, saying he was not one of the men she was introduced to. — Sapa