Speaking exclusively to BBC News, Duduzane Zuma rejected suggestions that his business associates took a keen interest in him because he was the president’s son and wanted to exploit their relationship with him to build their business empire by looting the public purse.
“Mr Nkosi, I’m not corrupt. I’m not corrupt. I’ve not involved myself in any corrupt practice, in any corrupt business,” the 35-year-old businessman told the BBC’s Africa correspondent, Milton Nkosi, who travelled to Dubai to conduct the interview.
Zuma said there was nothing “untoward” about his relationship with the Guptas, and said meeting the three Gupta brothers, Atul, Ajay and Rajesh ‘Tony’ Gupta, “was just a meeting of minds”.
“I don’t think they wanted anything from me. They liked me. As I liked them. I think I’m a likeable guy!” Zuma said.
Asked if he had regrets about meeting the Guptas, he said: “I look back and I think, I’m glad I met these guys, and I’m glad we are where we are today.”
According to a cache of leaked email correspondence between the Guptas and their business associates, Zuma appears to be kept and captured by the controversial family.
Since meeting the Guptas, his lifestyle had been characterised by first-class flights, fancy cars, chauffeurs and stays at numerous five-star hotels, Daily Maverick and amaBhungane reported in June.
In 2012, the Guptas allegedly paid for Duduzane’s getaway trip to Mauritius with his girlfriend at the time.
The emails also suggest the Guptas helped Zuma purchase an apartment worth nearly R18 million in 2015 at the iconic Burj Khalifa building in Dubai, the world’s tallest skyscraper.
But he denies this and the allegation that the Guptas bought his father property in Dubai.
“Firstly, I’m on business here. Secondly, Dubai is a wonderful place, and I’m sure you would agree. Thirdly, I do not have a property in Dubai. I do not own an apartment in the Burj Khalifa,” he said.
The leaked emails also revealed:
- The Guptas reportedly paid for Duduzane’s multimillion-rand wedding in Durban in April 2015, spending more than R500 000.
- They apparently know about Duduzane’s “most sensitive secrets”, with Sahara CEO Ashu Chawla having had access to his private Gmail account. Duduzane’s ex-girlfriend from 2012 is reported to have sent him “suggestive pictures” a day after his wife, Shanice Stork, told him she was pregnant with their first child.
- On the night (February 1, 2014) Duduzane crashed his Porsche into a minibus taxi in Sandton, Johannesburg, the first person he called was Rajesh ‘Tony’ Gupta, the youngest Gupta brother. One passenger, Phumzile Dube, was killed, and three others were injured in the accident.
- When allegations surfaced that Duduzane had allegedly impregnated another woman, then Oakbay CEO Nazeem Howa attempted to spin the story to the Sunday Sun.
- The family’s lawyer, Gert van der Merwe, reportedly gave advice on the terms of a R3.5-million maintenance settlement for the child and his mother.
- In March 2015, Duduzane was paid R300 000 a month in director’s fees, apparently more than any other director, including the Gupta brothers.
- Among other largesse President Jacob Zuma’s son received were first-class flight tickets and fancy cars bought by Gupta group companies. He was also chauffeured in a limousine and stayed at numerous five-star hotels.
With the mounting evidence of alleged corruption and state capture pointing squarely at him and the Guptas, Zuma said it had not crossed his mind he could be jailed if found guilty.
“It just crossed my mind now. It’s the first time … I don’t know if you saw it crossing my mind, but it’s gone! No,” he laughed.
“Why should it? It just crossed it now, since you mentioned it. I actually saw it crossing now, and it’s gone.”
Watch the full interview below: