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The Gupta brothers, at the centre of allegations on state capture, have issued a menacing threat to South African Public Prosecutor Thuli Madonsela – warning her that she includes their names in a report on her investigations at her “own peril”. The comments written on behalf of Ajay Gupta were delivered to Madonsela after President Jacob Zuma’s lawyers asked to question witnesses who have alleged that his family and associates are involved in a plan to take control of state entities and enrich themselves. The Guptas’ threat also comes on the back of the National Prosecuting Authority taking action against finance minister Pravin Gordhan in what appears to be a political manouevre to get him out of the picture. The rand has plummeted on negative sentiment around the country’s leadership, with senior political figures distancing themselves from Zuma. The Guptas’ comments are menacing, but the flip side is that there are signs that the Guptas and Zuma are fighting back because they are feeling cornered. This in turn can perhaps give South Africans hope that the end game – Zuma vs South Africa – is near. – Jackie Cameron
By Thulani Gqirana
Cape Town – The Gupta family lawyers have told the Public Protector that should the findings of her state capture report include that the family was “in any way whatsoever involved in inappropriate conduct,” she would be doing so at her “own peril”.
“If you choose to include that my clients were in any way whatsoever involved in inappropriate conduct under circumstances where we have tendered evidence to the contrary and under circumstances where we had a clear right to contradict the evidence you have gathered, you do at your own peril and at your own risk,” a letter sent to outgoing Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s office by lawyers van der Merwe Associates reads.
In the letter, Gert van der Merwe, writing on behalf of Ajay Gupta, accuses Madonsela of having a predetermined view of how she wanted the report to look.
The controversial family also believed that the evidence gathered during the investigation was merely “window dressing”. It called for Madonsela to follow due process in the probe.
Van der Merwe said they had asked to engage with witnesses who had testified in the state capture probe with no success.
“I have warned constantly against your approach and the processes followed, all in vain just to be advised that you will issue your report on Friday.
“It is clear that you have a predetermined view of how your report should look and I submit that the evidence you have gathered was gathered as window dressing for your decision that you have taken before my client’s version could be heard or your version could be tested. You seem to ignore the act responsible for your existence and it leaves me flabbergasted,” the lawyer said.
Thuli Madonsela must be sitting on an unbelievably explosive report!Surely that's why we've seen this #PravinGordhan story unfold like this?
— Katy Katopodis (@KatyKatopodis) October 11, 2016
They had considered applying for an urgent interdict, but “since the exact adverse conclusions you intend to make are only speculation, I do not want to put my client at risk and thereby create a fresh media hype”.
They would wait for the report to be released, he said, and consider the contents before deciding on a way forward.
Any “forced” report, the letter continued, will be an effort to force the Public Protector’s views and “it is obvious you show distrust in your successor under these circumstances”.
“It begs the question whether you leave a well-respected office with ill-intent and with a last punch at your rival, the president,” the lawyer’s letter concluded.
This comes a day after President Jacob Zuma also requested a chance to interview witnesses who had appeared before the Public Protector and to also see any evidence that implicated him.
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