Former state security minister Siyabonga Cwele allegedly summoned senior intelligence bosses to a meeting after he learned that the controversial Gupta family was going to be investigated, the commission of inquiry into state capture heard on Monday.
“A few days after the meeting we took to investigate the family – Mr [Jeff] Maqethuka informed [Gibson] Njenje and I that we have to urgently fly to Cape Town for a meeting with the minister,” former head of foreign intelligence Rieaz “Mo” Shaik told the commission.
“I found it inappropriate for a minister to get involved in operational matters – I would go as far as to say it was illegal. 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,” he said.
Shaik, Maqethuka and Njenje worked at the State Security Agency.
According to Shaik, the decision to probe the Gupta family was taken following a report that Fikile Mbalula, speaking during an NEC meeting, raised that one of the Gupta brothers had informed him he would be offered a Cabinet post before he was officially told about it.
The NEC meeting, which took place in August 2011, saw members having a tense discussion about the influence of the Guptas.
Former president Jacob Zuma, who faces claims he assisted the Guptas to capture the state, attended that meeting.
Former finance minister Trevor Manuel previously testified Mbalula cried while talking about an engagement he had with one of the Gupta brothers in 2010. It was during this interaction that Mbalula claimed he was told he would become sports minister.
“Our concern was that A: This was either a breach of national security from the Office of the President; B: This is possible because the Guptas may have obtained and peddled this information; C: That they in fact suggested this appointment which makes it more serious because they as foreign nationals are suggesting who should be in Cabinet – all three fall under national security,” Shaik explained.
Due to national security being at risk, Shaik, Maqethuka and Njenje took a decision to investigate the controversial family.
A few days later, the trio were allegedly summoned to Cape Town for a meeting with Cwele, which was described as “extremely confrontational”.
“The minister was having none of it; reason left the room when we entered and we could not find each other. The meeting deteriorated when the minister made the matter personal. He said that we wanted to further the business objectives of Njenje.
“It seemed to me that the minister did not want this investigation to happen and the meeting was incredibly tense,” Shaik concluded.
The inquiry continues.