Former State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele feared that an investigation into the Gupta family would have found something on former President Jacob Zuma, the state capture commission of inquiry heard on Tuesday.
Gibson Njenje, a former domestic intelligence head at the State Security Agency (SSA), told the inquiry that the agency had decided to investigate the family in 2010 after claims emerged that they had informed Fikile Mbalula of his appointment as a minister before the formal announcement.
However, he said Cwele strongly discouraged such an investigation during a meeting to discuss the matter.
‘We would be investigating the President’
Njenje said, “What was coming out of the meeting was that, in effect, we would be investigating the president if we continue with investigating the Guptas, and he did not think we should be doing it.
“Our point was that we are not investigating the president, we are trying to help the president.
“I took it at face value that what he meant was that if we investigate the family we might find something on the president.”
Njenje, along with Mo Shaik and Jeff Maqetuka, headed the agency at the time. His testimony mirrored that of Shaik, who appeared before the inquiry on Monday and Tuesday.
‘Investigation into Guptas could have prevented state capture’
In his testimony, Shaik told the inquiry that an investigation into the Guptas could have prevented state capture from happening.
He said Cwele’s alleged involvement was “inappropriate” and “illegal,” adding, “It is not done like that. The better way would have been to await the outcome of the investigation then deal with the outcomes, recommendations.”
Shaik also spoke about Zuma’s “friendship” with the Guptas, saying it led the former President to allegedly dismiss concerns about national security.
This is because Zuma allegedly failed to separate his personal friendship with the Guptas from his position as head of state, he explained.
Shaik said, “He was not applying his mind to the national security issue. Information was being peddled regarding his office and it must be investigated. I got a sense that he could not make that separation.”
Cwele has not yet publicly commented on Njenje and Shaik’s allegations. It’s unclear at this stage whether the inquiry has summoned him to appear before it or not.