Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe has declined to elaborate on the matter of controversial company Bosasa spending about R300 000 on maintenance and security upgrades at three of his properties.
Last week, African Global Operations (formerly known as Bosasa) employee Richard le Roux told the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture that three properties belonging to Mantashe, who is also ANC chairperson, were revamped and maintained by Bosasa.
The commission is investigating allegations of corruption regarding senior politicians and officials.
“There were three properties invoiced under the code name Gwede that belonged to Mr Mantashe that fell under Sondolo’s special projects,” said Le Roux.
“Mantashe’s property in Boksburg was the first that we worked on. We installed CCTV [cameras] and perimeter lighting because there were concerns that the perimeter was too dark for the cameras to make out anything,” testified Le Roux.
The total costs of installation to Mantashe’s home came to R300 000, revealed Le Roux.
Besides the house in Boksburg, there were also two properties in the Eastern Cape.
“On the Zondo Commission, now [City Press] wants me to give evidence here. [City Press] is not Zondo. How do we do that? ... If you want me to testify here – I apologise – I can’t do that,” said Mantashe during a media conference at the African Mining Indaba in Cape Town.
“This Saturday, we will invite journalists to Boksburg and Sunday we will invite journalists to Cala and Elloit [in the Eastern Cape]. After you have done an inspection in loco only then will I go to the Zondo Commission and testify,” he said.
“Sometimes you talk of security upgrades, when you go and see you make your own observations and see whether they are security upgrades or not. Now it is the word of one witness in a commission. Maybe the government proves something different when we go there.”
He said he would be taking a small group of journalists to his three homes that were allegedly revamped by Bosasa this weekend.
“A few journalists – not a big contingent, come and see – make your own observations,” Mantashe added.
“I’m hoping journalists will know the difference between an electrical fence and a barbed wire. I’m making that assumption. Maybe we need to explain to them this is not an electric fence it is a barbed wire.”
In a post from his Twitter account this past Saturday, Mantashe said that he had written a letter that he would send to the Zondo Commission that stated his intentions to give evidence to the commission.
“Before I do that, I want members of the media to visit my residences so that when I submit evidence, they can put it into context,” he added.
He said in the Twitter post that the visits by journalists to his residences were part of a desire “to see these security upgrades that are much talked about in the media so that they may report accurately”.
He said that the Bosasa issue opened up an avenue for people to attack him in person from a different angle.
“Others are disappointed for me to be associated with the Bosasa saga, which I appologise,” he added.
“Others are fishers of corrupt men. Those will be disappointed. I have to clarify the issue,” Mantashe tweeted.