Magashule rejects 'baseless' claims of Gupta meeting over R140m deal

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule has dismissed allegations that he took former MEC Mxolisi Dukwana to the Guptas' Saxonwold compound seven years ago to discuss a R140m deal.

According to court papers brought by Dukwana, Magashule took the former MEC to the Guptas' Saxonwold compound in 2011, where Tony Gupta tried to strong-arm Dukwana into approving the deal, News24 reported on Friday.

In a statement on Saturday, Magashule called the allegations baseless "lies".

He did not usually entertain allegations, he said, but because the subject related to matters currently before the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture, he felt obliged to respond.

"Comrade Dukwana’s allegations are not only baseless and malicious but are also based on fabrications, which is very unfortunate," Magashule said.

"The allegations are nothing but an attempt to advance character assassination and further distract the immediate task of unity and renewal."

Magashule said he was committed to the reconstruction and development of the country.

"To this end I have indicated my willingness to participate in the ongoing inquiry on state capture should I be invited to provide any information emanating from my previous deployments and responsibilities."

READ: Ace Magashule, Tony Gupta and the R140m Free State deal

Magashule bemoaned the allegations and media reports as "one-sided", and said no one should use the media for their personal reasons or to garner public sympathy.

Dukwana brought an urgent Anton Piller application - a court order that provides the right to search premises and seize evidence without prior warning - in the Bloemfontein High Court late last month. 

In his court papers, he revealed that during his tenure as MEC between 2009 and 2012, he had presented a master plan concept document for a "New City or City of Tomorrow" to the Free State executive council, chaired by Magashule as premier.

Dukwana alleged that he was asked by Magashule to attend a fundraising function for the party in Johannesburg in late 2011 and had been driven in different cars from OR Tambo airport to the Gupta compound where Tony Gupta introduced himself to him, he stated in his founding affidavit reads.

He claimed he had been asked to hand in his cellphone, which would be returned to him on his departure, and had been "ushered" into a room, while Gupta and Magashule went into a separate room and later rejoined Dukwana, this time accompanied by Duduzane Zuma.

Gupta had in the presence of Magashule asked him to sign a document “purportedly prepared by me on the letterhead of my office, addressed to Nulane Management Services appointing them to run the whole project on a turn-key basis", his papers stated.

News24 established that Nulane is connected to former Transnet board member Iqbal Sharma.

Dukwana said he told Gupta he could not sign the letter. Gupta was "not pleased" and demanded that HOD Thuso Ramaema, who was able to sign it, be removed.

"Mr Gupta then told me that he had a suitable replacement for me and a phone call was made and in no time, Mr Richard Seleke came through. He was then introduced to me as the one who help the process [sic]. Mr Richard Seleke was eventually appointed as the HOD," Dukwana states.

Following the meeting, Dukwana was presented with another letter, prepared on his behalf, relating to the project.

He states he was "expected" to sign the second letter, which would authorise Nulane Management Services and another company, P3 Africa, to be compensated R140m in six instalments.

He never signed the document.

"I do not know who prepared it for me to sign," Dukwana stated in his affidavit.

"I remain startled to this day as to why the presentation I made in the executive council, its details, ended up [with] outside persons who were not in government. I can only deduce that Mr Gupta possibly received the details of my presentation from Mr Magashule."

Dukwana’s application was granted by the court and the sheriff went to the offices of the premier of the Free State and the current MEC for economic development.

Court papers show that none of the documents Dukwana wanted could be found.

Dukwana said he required this evidence to enable him to give evidence before the commission of inquiry into state capture.

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