Former spy boss Riaz “Mo” Shaik believes the Gupta family could have been stopped and state capture prevented as far back as 2011.
Mo Shaik said if they had been allowed to investigate the Gupta family, the controversial landing of a private jet at the Waterkloof Air Force Base would never have happened.
Shaik testified at the state capture commission of inquiry on Monday where he described former minister Siyabonga Cwele’s interference in an investigation of the family as a dereliction of duty, which cost the state.
Shaik said their suspicions about what has now become known as state capture first arose after a news article in 2011 which exposed how then sports minister Fikile Mbalula, during an outburst at a meeting of the ANC’s national executive committee, claimed one of the Gupta brothers informed him of his appointment before it was announced the year before.
There were three concerns for the SSA when the news broke:
That there was either a breach of national security in then-president Jacob Zuma’s office, that members of the Gupta family may have overheard Zuma while he was discussing Mbalula’s appointment with somebody else; or that the Gupta family suggested Mbalula’s appointment.
Shaik said he and two other senior SSA officials met personally with Zuma to inform him of their proposed investigation of the Guptas.
“President Zuma expressed his preference for no investigation to continue. He may have alluded to it, [that] there is a lot of speculation and rumours about the Guptas, but this is not the case, they were very good business people.”
He said Zuma failed in his duties as the president: “He didn’t properly apply his mind to his obligation to provide effective and efficient direction of the Intelligence Service. I think the country has paid the price as a result thereof.”
“The national interest was undermined in order for favour. If we were allowed to do the investigation, we may be talking about different things now.”
Shaik will continue presenting evidence on Tuesday.