Erna Wiese, a department of public works architect, told the commission of inquiry into state capture on Thursday that former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor could not “immediately” identify property number 5 at Saxonwold – the Gupta residence she allegedly visited in 2010 when she was allegedly offered a ministerial position by one of the Gupta brothers.
The commission’s legal team, as well as those of Mentor and the Guptas, and professionals from the department – an architect, valuers, a quantity surveyor, a structural engineer, a technologist – conducted an “in loco” inspection of the Gupta residence on December 3, 2018, after one of the Gupta brothers, Ajay, claimed that Mentor’s description of the Gupta’s house during her testimony at the commission last year, inside and out, had been incorrect.
The team from the department compiled a report which was submitted to the commission.
“She couldn’t identify the house with 100% certainty… we were all still outside,” Wiese told the commission.
Wiese said Mentor could not identify the boundary wall of the property and the narrowness between the house and the boundary wall.
The first feature that Mentor had to point out was the staircase at steps at property number 5, which Wiese said counted to a total of 10 steps and not the five or six Mentor remembered during her testimony.
“She was adamant that it was five or six … and she also remembered the steps [were] not that short…”
Wiese added that Mentor could not remember the column bases or the pedestals at the top of the stairs.
The witness is expected to give testimony on the report the “team of experts” from the department compiled after its visual inspection of the property.
During the inspection, the team “needed to confirm the features in the brief [and] come to a conclusion whether they were there or not”, Weise said.
“She explained that the five or six steps that she recollected walked much more easily, a wider tread than the current one we were standing on,” Wiese said, which suggested that these were different to the ones she saw in 2010.
Mentor testified that she had found it easy to walk up the steps in 2010 though she was using crutches.
The colouring of the steps, as described by Mentor, were white or grey, marble steps, but the team encountered dark or grey granite steps.
The testimony continues: