Ex SAA chairman and chief executive Vuyisile Kona on Tuesday revealed that to the state capture inquiry that Tony Gupta gave him R500,000 “to welcome him to the Gupta family“.
After Kona rejected the alleged gratification, offered in October 2012, it did not take long until he was removed early in 2013, the commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture heard on Tuesday.
According to Kona, he was called into a meeting held at the Gupta residence in Saxonwold.
Former president Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane, who never uttered a word during the entire meeting, was in attendance. Also present was Siyabonga Mahlangu, former adviser to then minister of public enterprises, Malusi Gigaba.
Upon arrival at the meeting, Kona, who was meeting the Gupta brother for the first time, was showered with praise for being a “smart man”.
But this warm reception would soon change.
Kona said Gupta told him that “I know you have not been paid”, and then offered him R100,000 to “welcome me to the family, saying ‘you are now part of the family’.”
Kona said: “Then he increased the offer to R500,000 and I told him I was okay. The money was there in cash.
“It was the first time I was meeting him (Gupta) and he was giving me money. What did he want? I started feeling uncomfortable with the whole thing.”
According to Kona, Gupta became “livid” after he rejected both the initial offer of R100,000 and the additional R400,000 and the mood in the room became sombre while Duduzane continued sitting in complete silence.
It was at this point that Gupta changed the topic to a consulting contract that SAA had awarded to Lufthansa Consulting to develop a turnaround strategy for the state-owned company.
Gupta wanted the contract given to McKinsey Consulting.
When Kona informed Gupta that the contract was done and dusted and awarded to Lufthansa, the meeting was brought to an abrupt end. Kona walked out alone and back to his car.
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