State Capture: how Guptas cashed in
● ANN7, The New Age got R260m from government ● Duduzane Zuma now ready to testify
THE two Gupta-owned media outlets, ANN7 television news channel and The New Age newspaper, received R260 million from South African government departments, with R248m of the amount having gone to the newspaper.
Jan Gilliland, an accountant and an official at National Treasury, testified how he tracked and traced payments to the Gupta media entities made between 2004 and July this year. TNA was launched in 2010, while ANN7 started broadcasting in 2013.
Evidence leader Vincent Maleka told the commission that Gilliland’s evidence was the third part, completing “the story of GCIS” after former government spin doctor Themba Maseko and acting GCIS chief executive Phumla Williams testified how they were pressured to channel government advertising budgets to Gupta-owned media titles.
Gilliland said he used the BAS (Basic Accounting System) payment method, applied by the National and provincial Treasuries, to track and trace government payments for goods and services made by departments. This came after the Hawks started investigating a R55m payment to the Gupta media outlets and approached Williams, querying the payment.
“This concept becomes important in the context of your mandate regarding the procurement of goods and services, including payments that are the subject of this commission, either because they are underpinned by state capture, corruption or fraud,” Maleka told commission chairman Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
Gilliland said the Guptas received small amounts from 2004, which jumped significantly in 2008 when they received more than R1m. By 2011 a total of R6m had been transferred.
It had increased to R29m by 2012. When ANN7 was launched in 2013, the media outlets had received R30m.
Maleka said it could be assumed that ANN7 earned money from the government from the day it went on air. Total amounts for 2014 and 2016 were R51m and R66m respectively.
The Gupta cash bonanza from the state started to decrease from 2016 when the family received R43m. Only R27m was received in 2017, a significant decrease compared with the previous year.
From January 2018, the newspaper had received R3.7m until the demise of The New Age in July.
Owner Mzwanele Manyi, who took over control of the Gupta media titles through a vendor financing deal, successfully liquidated the company, citing insolvency.
Regarding payments by provinces to the Guptas, the Free State, under former premier Ace Magashule, transferred R79m, while KwaZulu-Natal was second with payments totalling R29m.
Gilliland’s evidence was presented in slides showing graphs of payments over the years.
It also emerged yesterday that Duduzane Zuma has decided to testify and give his side of the story at the commission.
The head of the commission’s legal team, Paul Pretorius, said a letter was received from Duduzane’s legal representatives stating that he had changed his mind and would give testimony.
Duduzane Zuma had initially opted not to testify as he was facing parallel criminal charges.
The charges relate to an alleged R600m bribe offered to former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas by the Gupta family at their Saxonwold compound in the presence of Duduzane Zuma and controversial businessman Fana Hlongwane.
Duduzane Zuma’s corruption case is in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court.
Justice Zondo also ruled yesterday that the fugitive Gupta brothers – Ajay, Rajesh and Atul – would have to submit affidavits regarding their refusal to travel to South Africa to testify.
The family and Duduzane Zuma have applied to the commission to be allowed to cross-examine witnesses such as ex-MP Vytjie Mentor, former government spin doctor Themba Maseko and former deputy minister of finance Mcebisi Jonas.
The three gave explosive testimony implicating the Guptas, former president Jacob Zuma and Duduzane Zuma.
The family has, through their legal representative, told Justice Zondo that they preferred to testify via video link from a location in Dubai, than travel to South Africa and be subjected to more “incompetence by the police and prosecutors”.
Maleka argued last week against the Guptas’ preference for a video link and told Justice Zondo the family wanted the commission to work according to their terms.
The family’s evidence, he said, was not “worth the paper it was written on” and was all about them portraying themselves as innocent in the state capture saga.
Justice Zondo will rule on the applications to cross-examine later this week. Former minister of public enterprises Barbara Hogan is next to take the stand.