ANC princeling Malusi Gigaba had a Monday night to forget after his estranged wife laid bare his alleged nefarious dealings with the Gupta family at the state capture commission chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
What a night it turned out to be and those who waited for the much-anticipated testimony. And pity those who missed out.
From wads of cash, a money counter, a luxury BMW gift, a R5 million sponsored wedding, disappearing passports and copies, attempts to wipe off information from electronic devices, Norma Mngoma spilled the tea. The intimate details laid bare about the former minister of public enterprises, home affairs and finance were worth all the popcorn.
Gigaba has long denied being on the payroll of the Guptas, but his wife’s testimony was damning in the opposite direction. She gave details that only an intimate partner would know, including how she once walked into his study while he was offloading a stash of cash from his bags into the safe and how the Guptas were involved in their family life.
Details of how Gigaba, who some in the ANC see as a future president, did not want South Africans to know his dealings with the Gupta family were revealed by the one person who would know it all — the woman he once pledged to love in sickness and in health and to whom she pledged the same.
Gigaba was dealt a double blow on Monday. Firstly, his application to bar his wife’s evidence was rejected by Zondo. Then Mngoma exposed the family secrets in her evening testimony, which ended after 11pm.
The couple are currently entangled in an acrimonious divorce, which has seen them lay charges and counter-charges against each other.
After finally being compelled to give testimony before the state capture commission of inquiry, Mngoma sang like a canary. She revealed how her husband received cash and gifts and benefits from the Guptas, who allegedly controlled former president Jacob Zuma and masterminded the capture of the South African state for their own benefit. Favours received by Gigaba included a R5 million bill for their 2015 wedding held at the beautiful Durban Botanic Gardens, a luxury white BMW and a gold necklace for their young child.
Mngoma, who was initially expected to testify earlier this month but withdrew at the last minute, finally testified on Monday after being subpoenaed with Zondo ruling that she must testify in public.
Gigaba’s estranged wife initially appeared uneasy and seemingly uncooperative but after warming up to commission evidence leader Advocate Anton Myburgh’s line of questioning, she relaxed and painted a picture of a husband who conducted himself as a puppet being handled by the puppet masters, namely Zuma and the Guptas.
She detailed how, through offering financial incentives, the Guptas manipulated Gigaba during his tenure as public enterprises minister between 2010 and 2014.
Mngoma testified that the family, who once lived plush in Saxonwold, dangled a carrot in the form of monetary gains in front of her husband. She said she paid all their wedding expenses, including caterers and other suppliers, using cash from the bundles that she received from “Mr Ajay Gigaba”. She estimated the wedding cost at between R4 million and R5 million.
Beyond the wedding, Mngoma also revealed that Gigaba had over the years received various gifts and benefits from the Guptas. She even detailed the colour of the bags in which Gigaba collected the money.
Mngoma explained that a few months before Gigaba took office as public enterprises minister, Ajay Gupta gave him a white BMW, which Ajay handed over in her presence at the offices of Sahara Computers in Midrand. She used the BMW as her private car until Gigaba told her he had given the car to one of his friends to fix the lights but she never saw it again.
On the infamous Gupta wedding in 2013, Mngoma said they had gone to welcome the matrimonial delegation that landed at Waterkloof Air Force Base from India. At the Sun City wedding venue she had Indian imprints done on her hands, which she posted on Facebook before she was told to take down the post — an indication that the couple’s presence was to be concealed.
GUPTAS KNEW EVERYTHING BEFOREHAND
In her more damning revelations, Mngoma detailed how Gigaba told her that the Guptas knew about the appointments at the state-owned enterprises (SOEs) prior to such being made. She added that besides the appointments, the Guptas were also privy to looming dismissals at the SOEs.
She also detailed how the Gigabas and the Guptas enjoyed a close relationship that involved regular visits to each other's homes, to such an extent that a golden necklace was offered as a gift, to the Gigabas at the birth of their first-born son.
The estranged wife indicated that the visits between her husband and Ajay intensified after Gigaba was appointed as public enterprises minister.
The department controls mega SOEs such as Eskom, Transnet and Denel which were allegedly milked by the Gupta-aligned companies during the period under review.
Central in this relationship was the presence of Gigaba’s adviser Siyabonga Mahlangu, now head of regulatory affairs at Telkom. Mngoma referred repeatedly to Mahlangu as being present at meetings where decisions that the Guptas needed to be carried out were made.
Mahlangu was reported to have bought a R5 million house from the Guptas in a questionable transaction in 2014. He was alleged to have been present in the Saxonwold Gupta residence when the family offered former SAA chair Vuyisile Kona a R500 000 bribe in the presence of Zuma and then Free State premier Ace Magashule's children - all close associates of the Guptas.
Mngoma also detailed how former and now disgraced SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni used to threaten Gigaba, telling him that if he did not do as he was told, he would be sent back to the department of home affairs, where he had previously been a deputy minister. According to Mngoma, such threats were also repeated by Ajay, that should Gigaba not do as he was told he would be removed from the public enterprises position and dumped at home affairs.
Regarding Myeni, Mngoma added that the former SAA board chairperson facilitated their honeymoon trip to Mauritius and gave them a detailed itinerary for their stay on the beautiful island. She said Gigaba later informed her that there was some disagreement between him and Myeni on certain decisions pertaining to the direction of SAA, which resulted in tensions between the pair and a sour relation. Chief among these disagreements was Myeni’s insistence on the removal of CEO Monwabisi Kalawe, who Gigaba respected and the chairperson despised. There also was serious tension between the two about SAA’s Mumbai route, which the Guptas were pressuring government to give to a Gupta-allied Indian airline.
This has previously been mentioned by Gigaba’s predecessor, Barbara Hogan, as one of the reasons the Guptas wanted her out and why Zuma eventually fired her.
Mngoma said the breakdown in the pair’s relationship was also as a result of Myeni telling Gigaba that Zuma wanted things done a certain way. These sentiments irritated Gigaba who, according to his wife, indicated that should the former president wish things to be done a certain way he ought to inform his own minister directly.
Mngoma referred to a money counter, which she said she thought was an ATM at the Gupta home. She and Gigaba were given a demonstration of the workings of the money counter, which for the purposes of the exercise only counted R10 000.
She claimed her passport and those of her children strangely disappeared when she wanted to provide the commission with proof of her overseas trips. She said she had called the person with whom she had always dealt with in regarding her diplomatic passport (which was kept in a government office after a foreign trip). The official initially cooperated but then later said she could not find any records of the Gigabas’ foreign trips together. Then her regular passports and copies, mysteriously disappeared from the home she used to share with her husband. This incident heightened her fear that her life was in danger.
She said Gigaba wanted her personal electronic devices taken from her to delete any incriminating evidence and information that may allow the commission investigators to pinpoint where they were at certain times, particularly in relation to their trips to the Guptas family house.
At the end of her testimony, a visibly tired Mngoma raised issues about her personal security and said her affidavit was leaked to the media and also sent to Ajay without her knowledge. She also said she had received threatening messages and calls.
Mngoma said she had decided to withdraw from giving testimony to the commission because she felt the commission did not protect her. What was clear from Mngoma’s testimony was that she was fearful of the man she was accusing of being a Gupta stooge and was angry at the commission for not affording her protection from people she feared would harm her for finally telling her version of the truth.