I helped save deputy president's life - Duduzane Zuma talks of 'breakdown' in relationship with Mabuza

Duduzane Zuma.
Duduzane Zuma.
Antonio Muchave, Gallo Images, Sowetan, file

"I was part of a team that saved his life."

Former president Jacob Zuma's son Duduzane claim he was instrumental in the recovery of Deputy President David Mabuza, after he was allegedly poisoned.

In a 44-minute recording of a video call between father and son, Duduzane said he had taken care of Mabuza for five days during a trip. 

During the 2017 Nasrec battle for control of the ANC, it emerged that Mabuza had been poisoned in 2015, and was receiving treatment in Russia. Russia was also the country that Zuma turned to when he himself was allegedly poisoned.

The two men were known allies, until Mabuza, who was part of the so-called "premier league", Zuma's chief lieutenants during his administration, turned against the former president. At the final hour, Mabuza threw his support behind Cyril Ramaphosa over Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for the role of party president during the watershed conference.

During the video interview, the younger Zuma detailed how he organised transportation for Mabuza to receive medical care in Russia during his brush with death as a result of poisoning.

Duduzane explained how he had "covertly extracted" Mabuza in a helicopter from Mpumalanga to OR Tambo International Airport, before chartering a private plane to Russia.

He detailed to his father how the poison had debilitated Mabuza to such an extent that, during the five-day trip, he became the deputy president's "minder", even having to undress him at times.

READ | My dad 'will be strong as ever' by time of his trial in May - Duduzane Zuma

'I'm not asking him for any favours'

"People need to understand that it was really touch and go, just like it was touch and go for you. It was really touch and go for the now deputy president. He was obviously thankful to myself and yourself," he told former president Zuma.

The younger Zuma added: "It's a scary thing to see, how he was detailing it and the pain that he was in. Poison affects people in different ways, but this one was a slow poison that was killing him from the inside through his core, that was what the mobility problem was."

Duduzane explained how, when he went back to Moscow to fetch Mabuza, he was accompanied by Tony Gupta.

WATCH | 'That's my guy,' Zuma says about his relationship with Tony Gupta

When Mabuza arrived back in the country, he spent a few days with his wife at one of the Gupta homes in Saxonwold. 

After the life altering interaction between Mabuza and Duduzane, the relationship broke down, he said. 

"There has been breakdown in my relationship with him and not from my side, from his side. I clearly don't know, maybe myself and him will have that discussion one day. He has always been someone I held in high regard. I'm not asking him for any favours. I have never asked him for any favours. I was part of a team that saved his life. I'm not looking for preferential treatment." 

The Zuma men also discussed the death of Vusi Nhlakanipho, the former president's son who died at the age of 25. He died at Milpark Hospital in 2005 after suffering complications of systematic lupus erythematosus. 

During the broadcast, former president Zuma alleges that Nhlakanipho became collateral damage after his enemies failed to get to him. 

"Now that I know what took him, it's what pains me even more. I now know that it was people who were trying to kill me or to reach me, but who were finding it difficult and who then took a decision to create something that would pain me. It was a failure to take your life (Duduzane) that they went to the young men," Zuma said, adding that he believed his son was killed when his enemies tampered with his treatment. 

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