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Staff confirm Gupta family met with Jacob Zuma

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The two men were called to confirm certain aspects of evidence provided last year to the commission by Rajesh Sundaram.

Ramaru Mekgwe is a former household manager at the Mahlamba Ndlopfu presidential guesthouse. Screengrab: SABC/YouTube

Johannesburg – Two witnesses who are employed at the Mahlamba Ndlopfu presidential guest house have confirmed key evidence provided by a former Gupta employee about meetings between former president Jacob Zuma and members of the Gupta family.

The commission on Thursday heard evidence from Ramaru Mekgwe, a former household manager at the Mahlamba Ndlopfu presidential guest house. It also heard evidence from Jacques Human, the current household manager at Mahlamba Ndlopfu.

The two men were called to confirm certain aspects of evidence provided last year to the commission by Rajesh Sundaram.

He told the commission about the Gupta family’s efforts in setting up their TV news channel ANN7.

He also told the commission about the critical role Zuma played in brainstorming and contributing to the ANN7’s set-up and editorial policy.

Sundaram had been flown in from India and served as the editor of the news channel and was responsible for running the station. He had said his visa was set-up and ready within a day of him arriving in the country.

Sundaram had also told the inquiry about various meetings he had attended with the Gupta brothers and associates at the presidential guest house.

He described how when he arrived at the guest house with other Gupta associates; they were not subjected to security checks and were ushered into the residence.

Sundaram had also testified the meetings took place in two rooms at the residence, one large room which had a bookshelf with leather-covered books, a mounted TV and a coffee table with chairs. The other room was larger and had multiple-seating areas, a TV and coffee table at the centre.

Mekgwe and Human confirmed Sundaram’s evidence about the features of the two rooms at the presidential guest house.

“There is this room at the residence with leather-bound books, a table at the centre, there are wingback chairs, four around the table and with a TV in a cabinet. The other meeting room is two-and-a-half times larger and has multiple-sitting arrangements and a coffee table at the centre and a TV at the far end. The difference between this room and the other room is the size,” Mekgwe said.

Mekgwe also confirmed he had seen members of the Gupta family at the residence.

Human confirmed the only way guests to the residence would be ushered in without signing would be if the security personnel stationed at the entrance had been notified ahead of the guest arriving.

Sundaram had testified they were never required to state their names when they entered the residence and were also never taken through a metal detector.

Last year, Sundaram testified Zuma was instrumental in setting-up ANN7 and had even picked the name for the TV station.

Sundaram had also told the inquiry Zuma had mentioned during a visit to his residence he would be in Mpumalanga on August 9, 2013.

Former SABC journalist Gillian Pillay testified at the inquiry she had covered an event in the province when Zuma was there, which corroborates Sundaram’s testimony on what Zuma had said.