Tokyo Sexwale: Ajay Gupta is my friend

Businessman Tokyo Sexwale has briefly shed light on his relationship with the Guptas. (Gareth van Zyl)
Businessman Tokyo Sexwale has briefly shed light on his relationship with the Guptas. (Gareth van Zyl)

Johannesburg - Businessman Tokyo Sexwale has briefly explained his relationship with the Gupta family after announcing that he’s launched a probe into Trillian Capital Partners.

Sexwale, who is the chairperson of Trillian Capital, said on Friday that Advocate Geoff Budlender would conduct an “independent” probe over the company’s said pre-knowledge of the firing of former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene.

READ: Sexwale launches probe into Trillian Capital over Nenegate

Trillian Capital was allegedly privy to Nene's axing, weeks before it happened on December 9 2015, the Sunday Times reported late last month.

The report further said that Trillian Capital has links to the controversial Gupta family and that the company hoped to score deals from the appointment of Des van Rooyen as finance minister.

After succumbing to pressure, President Jacob Zuma in December last year then rehired Pravin Gordhan as finance minister.

Sexwale said the investigation would probe the veracity of allegations that Trillian Capital knew of the firing of Nene and whether or not the company has any links to the Guptas.

"These days it's a swear word to say this is Gupta linked. That's exactly what needs to be investigated, openly,” said Sexwale. "And if there is such a link what is its nature and what is its currency,” added Sexwale.

Sexwale addressing media in Johannesburg over a probe into Trillian Capital. (Gareth van Zyl)

Sexwale then shed some light on his own business and personal relationship with the Guptas, who this week have come under further public scrutiny over their key appearance in the public protector’s report on state capture.

"I know Ajay very very well, extremely well,” said Sexwale.

READ: Open letter: Tokyo Sexwale asks Ajay Gupta to atone for any wrongdoing

Sexwale then went on to refer to his open letter that he penned to Ajay Gupta earlier this year. In that letter, Sexwale said the controversy surrounding the Gupta name and its links to president Zuma is "a political hurricane steadily sweeping around the land".

In the letter, he also called on Gupta to ensure that the family’s businesses have nothing to do with state capture.

“I advised him what to do and what not to do," Sexwale added.

Sexwale further spoke of his previous business links with the Guptas.

"Fifteen years ago we owned together Sahara computers, one of the leading technology companies in South Africa. They had 50%, we had 50%, later we sold the 50%,” said Sexwale.

"Mvelaphanda once owned a company called JIC - they [the Guptas] bought us out.

"I have no business relationship with them right now, but in terms of business, they once bought a company from us. So, I know them very well," said Sexwale.

Sexwale says the investigation will be independent. (Gareth van Zyl)

Sexwale added that numerous other politically connected individuals know the Guptas but that they may be distancing themselves from the family amid allegations of state capture.

"When you ask people, have you been there before, nobody knows them,” said Sexwale.

"It's a natural human reaction for when somebody's now in trouble,” he said.

Sexwale was previously Gauteng Premier and a minister in Zuma’s Cabinet.

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