President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: REUTERS/SIPHIWE SIBEKO
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: REUTERS/SIPHIWE SIBEKO

President Cyril Ramaphosa has never engaged with the Guptas beyond common courtesies, except in 2016, when the family needed the ANC help in restoring banking relations, he said.

In a six-page affidavit ahead of his appearance at the state capture commission, Ramaphosa said he had met the family — at the centre of SA biggest post-apartheid scandal —  three times in total, from 2012, when he was elected deputy president of the ANC.

"My interactions with the Gupta brothers were at events where nothing of any consequence was discussed. I never engaged with them beyond the basic greetings, pleasantries and common courtesies,” he said.

He said the only occasion where matters of substance were discussed was when the Guptas met the ANC officials to discuss the closing of their bank accounts in April 2016. At that meeting, the controversy around their relationship with Zuma was discussed, he said.

Ramaphosa said one of the brothers arrived at the meeting, whom he thinks was Tony Gupta. The president said that at that meeting, he raised the issue of the Waterkloof landing for the Gupta's Sun City wedding.

“I stated that they had, through their actions, placed the former president in an invidious position. Tony Gupta's reaction was that permission for the plane to land had been obtained and given by the Indian high commissioner,” Ramaphosa said.

The president also distanced himself from corruption-accused Bosasa, which now trades as African Global Operations, saying he did not recall having interacted with the company’s former COO, Angelo Agrizzi, whose testimony earlier in 2019 ensnared several high-profile politicians in wrongdoing.

He said it was entirely possible that he may have interacted with Agrizzi because the business executive once worked for Grantham Catering, a subsidiary of the Molope Group, which Ramaphosa worked for. 

Ramaphosa added that Molope was in direct competition to Bosasa and therefore he may have interacted with directors and employees at the time, or have been at same events as them. 

He said he was also advised that Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson and director Trevor Mathenjwa, both of whom were implicated at the state capture inquiry, had attended a fundraiser hosted by himself. They were guests of a Chinese company, Dahua Technology, which provided video surveillance products and services. 

Ramaphosa said Dahua had donated R55,000 to the Adopt-A-School Foundation by buying a table at the fundraising event, held in October 2017. However, he said that to his knowledge, no donation was made to the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation by Bosasa. 

Ramaphosa also said he was informed that Watson and Mathenjwa attended his son Andile Ramaphosa's wedding in Uganda, in August 2018.

The president said there were more than 1,000 guests at the wedding and that he had no recollection of interacting with them there. 

It was disclosed earlier in 2019 that Andile Ramaphosa has had business dealings with Bosasa.

Ramaphosa said he may have interacted with Watson and some of his siblings decades ago as they were actively involved in the United Democratic Front (UDF), but that he had no recollection of this. 

Lastly, Ramaphosa said that in 2016, he took a tour of a call centre where ANC volunteers were assisting in the party's 2016 local government election campaign. The call centre was situated at the Bosasa headquarters.

“I had no knowledge of the source of funding for the centre as these matters were the purview of the election team,” he said.

“Other than the above, I have not, to my knowledge, had any interactions or meetings with any of its [Bosasa] directors, employees or former employees, nor have I had any interactions or meetings with any of the directors or former directors of its subsidiaries or employees or former employees,” Ramaphosa said. 

He said he could not be sure of the identities of all persons that had ever worked for Bosasa or it subsidiaries.