The Gigupta collusion: Another Gigaba adviser linked to the Guptas

South African Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba. File photo.
South African Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba. File photo. Image: REUTERS/Rogan Ward
The leaked Gupta e-mails have linked another of cabinet minister Malusi Gigaba’s advisers to the Gupta family, writes Kyle Cohen.

In December 2010, less than two months after being appointed special adviser to Gigaba, who was then public enterprises minister, Siyabonga Mahlangu flew to India with President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane Zuma, a Gupta associate, the e-mails show.

They were accompanied on the 10-day trip by Free State Premier Ace Magashule’s son, Tshepiso.

Gigaba, now finance minister, is under pressure from parliament to explain why he personally gave approval to the granting of citizenship to the Gupta family – waiving length of residence requirements – while he was home affairs minister.

The leaked Gupta data show that at least 11 meetings between “Mr Tony” (Rajesh “Tony” Gupta) and “Siya”, were scheduled on the Outlook calendar of Sahara Systems chief executive Ashu Chawla between October 2012 and June 2013. The appointments were either at the family’s Saxonwold compound or at the Sahara offices. Sahara is a Gupta company.

Mahlangu was Gigaba’s adviser from December 2010 until Gigaba became minister of home affairs in 2014.

Siyabonga Mahlangu
Siyabonga Mahlangu Image: SUPPLIED
Mahlangu did not dispute that the visits took place when asked about them last week but he refused to answer questions about the trip to India.

In March 2013 the Sunday Times reported that Mahlangu was present at a meeting on October 29 2012, at the Gupta’s Saxonwold compound, when then SAA chairman Vuyisile Kona was allegedly offered R500,000 by Tony Gupta.

The leaked e-mails show a meeting was scheduled between Tony Gupta and “Siya” on October 28, the day before the meeting with Kona.

The report said Mahlangu confirmed introducing Kona to Sahara, a Gupta company, but denied knowing of the cash offer – despite sources claiming that Mahlangu sat through the entire 40-minute meeting.

In 2014 there was further speculation about his relationship with the Guptas when amaBhungane journalists revealed that Mahlangu had purchased an upmarket home from the Gupta family for R5-million – before his term as Gigaba’s adviser had ended.

Mahlangu has denied any wrongdoing.

A source who asked not to be named claims that two of the meetings listed in the Outlook calendar related to the Guptas wanting Mahlangu to be appointed director-general of the Department of Transport. He applied for the position but was unsuccessful.

“Yes, I was told that the Guptas wanted Mahlangu to be appointed DG of Transport. But the then minister, Ben Martins, put a stop to it because Mahlangu was not suitably qualified,” the source claimed.

Mahlangu said inferences that the Guptas had tried to assist his career were “false and insulting”.

“Around 2013, entirely of my own accord, I applied for the position of director-general at the Department of Transport, which had become vacant. Whilst I was interviewed, I was unsuccessful,” Mahlangu said.

“I take exception that this was informed by anything other than my credentials and experience.”

Thamsanqa Msomi, who was implicated in the leaked e-mails as assisting the Gupta family gain visas for family and business associates, is still associated with Gigaba, who made him as his political adviser after becoming finance minister earlier this year.

During Gigaba’s stint as public enterprises minister he appointed to the boards of Eskom, Denel and Transnet individuals who have been shown to be closely associated with the Gupta family.

Neither Gupta spokesman Gary Naidoo, nor lawyer Gert van der Merwe, responded to questions.