Cape Town - Exactly three hours into a recorded YouTube video of a religious ceremony in India, the camera pans out to show the crowd.
In the background is a man in a white shirt, short black hair and short stubble.
This, according to the lawyers of Ajay Gupta, is their client.
And they say it shows he was not in South Africa on July 29 this year, when, according to testimony heard at Parliament’s inquiry into Eskom, he was at a meeting at Melrose Arc in Johannesburg trying to get information out of an Eskom executive about former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe’s upcoming court case.
The video was uploaded by Sanskar TV, which in its YouTube description states it is “the No.1 Spiritual Channel of India. Its popularity can be gauged by its highest devotional viewers”.
According to the video’s title, the event was broadcast live from the eastern Indian state of Odisha, which is renowned for its many well-preserved Hindu temples and holy sites.
About 20 seconds of the three-hour video appears to show footage of Ajay Gupta. (Fast forward to 3 hours exactly to see the purported footage)
WATCH: Is this Ajay Gupta?
The question of whether Ajay Gupta was at Melrose Arch on July 29 arose when Eskom’s suspended head of legal services Suzanne Daniels gave testimony to the committee.
She testified under oath that, on July 29 2017, she had been invited to meet with Gupta business associate Salim Essa at the African Pride Hotel in Johannesburg.
She claimed that after meeting in the hotel’s foyer, they walked to a nearby apartment block.
“We went into one of those apartments. As we walked into the lounge area there were four people, of which I was introduced to Ajay Gupta, Duduzane Zuma, Deputy Minister [of Public Enterprises] Ben Martins and a Chinese lady whose name I could not remember,” she said.
“The purpose of the discussion was around the process of [former Eskom CEO Brian] Molefe's court proceedings. Mr Gupta wanted to know how far [along] they were,” she said.
As Fin24 previously reported, Daniels said she informed Ajay Gupta that Eskom was to meet with a Deputy Judge President to discuss when to set down the matter as the DA, the EFF and trade union Solidarity had joined the application.
She said that Ajay told her that he would speak to someone at the Deputy Judge President’s office to have the hearing take place after December 2017.
Martins has previously denied that he was at the meeting.
“She [Daniels] falsely claimed that I had attended a tea party in Johannesburg with her, Mr Ajay Gupta, Mr Salim Essa and Mr Duduzane Zuma,” he said in the days following her evidence.
“As the head of Eskom’s legal department Ms Daniels should account to Parliament for what happened under her watch rather than seek to use the occasion to reinvent herself as clueless ignoramus.”
Martins said that, on July 29, he was at the funeral service of Ronnie Mamoepa at St Albans Cathedral in Pretoria. Mamoepa was indeed buried on July 29.
A screengrab of a YouTube video of a Hindu religious event appears to show Ajay Gupta. (SANSKARTV / YOUTUBE)
A screengrab of a YouTube video of a Hindu religious event appears to show Ajay Gupta. (SANSKAR TV / YOUTUBE)
On Wednesday Ajay Gupta's lawyer said in a legal letter the video and other evidence, including flight records and exit stamps in his passport, show he could not have been at the meeting where Brian Molefe’s court proceedings were supposedly discussed.
The letter was addressed to the head of Parliament’s inquiry into state capture and governance at Eskom. It was read into the inquiry’s record by its chair Zukiswa Rantho.
"I annex a photocopy of the passport of Mr Ajay Gupta, a copy of the relevant immigration stamped page of Mr Ajay Gupta’s passport, a copy of the official record showing that the aircraft ZS-OAK flew from Lanseria to Bhubaneswar, India, on July 22, 2017 and arrived in India on July 23, 2017. The aircraft returned on July 31 2017," the letter stated, which was written by Goitseona Pilane attorneys.
ZS-OAK is a private Bombadier Global 6000 jet that is owned by Westdawn Investments, which is part of the Gupta business empire.
Bhubaneswar, the city mentioned in the lawyer’s letter, is located in the state of Odisha.
The Eskom inquiry is set to continue in January 2018, and the Gupta brothers are expected to be asked to appear as witnesses.
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