Ex-state security minister Siyabonga Cwele said the agency would, in effect, be investigating Jacob Zuma if it continued with a probe into the activities of the controversial Gupta family, former domestic intelligence head Gibson Njenje told the commission of inquiry into state capture on Tuesday.
“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,” Njenje said.
When probed by commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo as to what that meant, he responded: “I took it at face value that what he meant was that if we investigate the family we might find something on the president.”
The agency took a decision to investigate the Guptas for many issues, but namely in the interest of national security when it was revealed through media reports that Fikile Mbalula was informed he would be appointed to the Cabinet, allegedly by one of the Gupta brothers.
This was before he was officially told about it.
The agency was headed up by Njenje, Mo Shaik and Jeff Maqetuka at the time.
A domestic branch meeting then followed within the agency, where a report was received regarding the Gupta family.
“From my team, someone went to the minister and told him this, then this gave rise to us being summoned by him,” Njenje said.
The three intelligence bosses were then summoned to Cape Town to meet with Cwele about the investigation.
It was during this meeting that Cwele allegedly raised the personal business interests of Njenje which he allegedly believed were in conflict with the interests of the Gupta family.
“It was the first time he raised my personal interests directly to my face. If you are a minister, you should be doing better than this – raise the issues properly. Why are you dealing with it in this manner. I was not happy. I felt like I was being personally assaulted, and the fact that he could not show me any piece of thing to say this is what I am talking about.
“There was no illustration of any sort to back up what he was saying. I had not even applied for this job, he approached me and he knew I was in business, I declared those interests and resigned from them,” he explained.
Shaik, who had also given evidence at the commission, testified the meeting was “confrontational”, adding he had “never seen Njenje so upset”.
The inquiry continues.