Former president Jacob Zuma and then state security minister Siyabonga Cwele hindered the State Security Agency (SSA) from investigating possible national and international violations by the Gupta family.
This was the testimony given by former secret service head Mo Shaik when he appeared before the Zondo commission on Monday.
Shaik said Cwele and Zuma ignored “serious” red-flags of possible Gupta links to Iran despite warnings from the US government.
He testified that the US ambassador to South Africa at the time raised an alarm over suspected Iranian funding into controversial Gupta-owned Shiva Uranium mine in 2010.
“This was one reason the SSA sought to investigate the Guptas,” said Shaik.
He said Zuma then assured him that there was no such funding which led to a decision being taken that no further inquiries be done on the allegations.
Shaik said shortly after this decision was taken not to investigate the Guptas, he and other colleagues – former spy boss Gibson Njenje and former SSA director-general Mzuvukile Maqetuka – were called to Cape Town for a meeting with Cwele.
Shaik said he could now go so far as to say the manner in which the meeting was called was illegal.
“The meeting was extremely confrontational. Extremely confrontational,” said Shaik.
He said the Gupta family needed to be investigated and this was in the interests of the president, but Cwele was not having it.
“Reason left the room when we entered the meeting venue. I have never seen Njenje more angry than he was in that meeting.
“It seemed to me that the minister did not want this investigation to happen for reasons that I am sure the minister will explain. He did not want this investigation to happen and the meeting was incredibly intense,” said Shaik.
In 2011, Shaik and Njenje were ousted from the agency. He testified that they persecuted for launching a probe into the Gupta family’s influence over the Zuma les government.
It was confirmed on Monday by Shaik that the pair had planned to investigate not only the Guptas’ Iran links but their influence on the state.
It was this probe the state capture commission was interested in learning more about.
Shaik argued that had the SSA not been prevented from investigating the Guptas in 2010 when the Americans raised concerns, the further threat to state security caused by the family’s 2013 illegal landing of a plane at Waterkloof Air Force Base could have been averted.
According to Shaik – who is the brother to Zuma’s former financial adviser Schabir Shaik who was convicted of plundering state coffers in the infamous arms deal – state security was compromised by the 2009 appointment of Cwele to oversee the SSA.
He added that the SSA from the onset was against having a minister appointed to oversee its day to day running.
“This would mean a minister would now have information on everything including other equals (ministers). This is why we wanted the SSA to report directly to the president,” said Shaik.
Njenje is also set to testify before the Zondo commission this week.
Source » news24