Former Minister Martins failed to mention the money he got from the Guptas

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22/06/2020 13:46:27

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Former Minister Martins failed to mention the money he got from the Guptas 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      On Saturday 20 June 2020, OUTA made a referral in terms of Section 27 of the National Prosecuting Authority Act to the Investigating Directorate to request an investigation into payments made to former Minister Ben Martins.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The payments were made by Mabengela Investments (Pty) Ltd and former CEO of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA), Lucky Montana.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Martins was Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises from November 2010 to June 2012, Minister of Transport from June 2012 to July 2013, then Minister of Energy for a while and, during 2017/18, was again Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      On 31 January 2018, Martins appeared at the parliamentary inquiry into Eskom conducted by the Public Enterprises Portfolio Committee. He testified that he had meetings with members of the Gupta family but emphasised that he was not a friend of them. He furthermore submitted a written statement to the Portfolio Committee with the following closing paragraph: “Finally, I repeat that if there is anyone who has evidence of criminality on my part they should report it to the relevant authorities.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This is exactly what OUTA has done in our formal referral to Advocate Hermione Cronje, Director of the Investigating Directorate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      OUTA submitted evidence that Mabengela Investments (Pty) Ltd made payments to Martins totalling amount R240 000. Four payments of R60 000 each were made to Martins’ bank account from December 2010 to July 2011. At the time of the payments Rajesh “Tony” Gupta and Duduzane Zuma were the directors of Mabengela Investments (Pty) Ltd. The first payment was made shortly after Martins became Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises in November 2010.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      At the parliamentary inquiry Martins also testified that he met with the Guptas at official events and once at their home in Saxonwold for an Indian food fair. He also testified that he met Tony Gupta and Duduzane Zuma twice at his ministerial residence in Pretoria together with Lucky Montana, the CEO of PRASA at the time. According to Martins, he was only facilitating the meeting between Montana and Tony Gupta where a PRASA tender was discussed. OUTA’s investigation shows that Martins had several other meetings with Tony Gupta that he failed to declare. The evidence was retrieved from Gupta’s electronic diary in the Gupta leaks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Martins not only received payments from the Guptas, but also received three payments from Montana in the total amount of R60 000, from November 2010 to September 2011. Martins was appointed as the Minister of Transport in 2012, a time when there was public pressure to remove Montana as CEO from PRASA. At the parliamentary inquiry Martins testified that he assured Montana at that meeting with Tony Gupta that he would not support the removal of Montana as CEO of PRASA.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Martins failed to declare the additional income he received from the Guptas and Montana to Parliament’s Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      OUTA hope that this referral will receive priority from the NPA and that all former and/or current members of the executive who received any form of gratification will be investigated and brought to book if there is sufficient evidence for a successful prosecution. The people of South Africa are called upon to come forward if they have any evidence of maladministration, corrupt activities and gratification received by anyone in public office.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      OUTA’s referral to the NPA is here
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Picture: OUTA

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