The former chief of staff at the ministry in the presidency and ministry of public service and administration, Adbegnigo Hlungwani, on Monday told the chairperson of the commission of inquiry into state capture, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, that he was discouraged from giving testimony on the removal of former Government Communications Information Systems (GCIS) director-general (DG) Themba Maseko.
Hlungwani was the second witness at the commission on Monday who testified on Maseko’s removal allegedly at the instruction of former president Jacob Zuma.
A witness on Monday, Brent Adrian Simons, gave testimony ahead of Hlungwani contrary to Zuma‘s previous testimony dismissing the allegation that he had instructed the former minister in the presidency, the late Collins Chabane, to get rid of Maseko.
Hlungwani said on the day Zuma gave this testimony, July 16, he received a call from an unknown person who threatened him, discouraging him from giving testimony on Maseko’s removal.
Hlungwani said the call was followed by a text message whose content he said he could not mention on national television.
The commission reported that the message stated: “Mother f****r, I’m coming for you.”
He said he did not take the threat seriously, which is one of the reasons why he preferred not to testify at the commission.
Hlungwani said he had only spoken to close family about the threats at the time and had then later communicated with the investigators of the commission.
Hlungwani told Zondo about a call from Zuma’s secretary before Maseko’s removal indicating that the former president wanted to talk to Chabane, however, he said he could not confirm whether the former president had actually spoken to the late minister.
Furthermore, Hlungwani said he could not confirm that Zuma had actually instructed Chabane to move Maseko.
At a later stage after the call, Chabane indicated to the witness that he wanted to talk to Maseko, Hlungwani said.
On the said day when the minister was leaving the office, Chabane mentioned that Maseko would have to be moved, Hlungwani said, and that when asked, the late minister responded by saying Maseko would be replaced by Mzwanele Manyi.
Hlungwani said he did not ask Chabane for reasons why Maseko would be moved and Manyi would replace him.
“It would have not been more than a week” after the call, Hlungwani said.
Maseko’s removal made headlines on February 2, 2011, Hlungwani added.