The case against Malusi Gigaba

Malusi Gigaba at the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture led by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. Picture: Itumeleng English Independent Newspapers

Malusi Gigaba at the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture led by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. Picture: Itumeleng English Independent Newspapers

Published Dec 18, 2023


Durban — When the commission first published its final volume of factual findings, it appears to have lopped off one of the most interesting sections: the evidence against Malusi Gigaba testified to by his ex-wife, Nomachule Mngoma. This was only rectified in October 2022, when a new and updated version of part 6, volume 3, was published, which has slipped somewhat under the radar: more’s the pity, considering how combustible the evidence was.

Ms Nomachule Mngoma first met Malusi Gigaba in 2009. At the time, Gigaba was the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs. They moved in together in the same year, and married in August 2014. Mngoma claimed that, during this period, Gigaba provided her with a credit card, but instructed her to spend no more than R100 000 per month.

Mngoma’s evidence painted a lurid picture of her ex-husband’s relationship with the Guptas. She claimed that Gigaba regularly visited the Guptas after he was appointed Minister of Public Enterprises. Gigaba referred to them as his “advisers”. She met the Guptas in person in 2011, during which meeting Ajay gave a gold necklace to her son. She continued to visit the compound with Gigaba throughout 2012. They also attended the Sun City wedding, although they ended up leaving at midnight due to extremely negative publicity. Thamsanqa Msomi and Siyabonga Mahlangu (Gigaba’s chief of staff and special adviser, respectively) were often at the compound when they visited, as was Duduzane. In total, she estimated that she visited the Gupta compound with Gigaba at least 20 times between 2011 and 2014.

She testified that, from 2014 onwards, Gigaba’s relationship with the Guptas cooled, as did his relationship with Dudu Myeni. Gigaba allegedly told her that this was the reason why he was effectively demoted from the position of Minister of Finance to Minister of Home Affairs.

Mngoma claimed that Gigaba had been loose-lipped when it came to SOE appointments. He informed her ahead of time of (Brian) Molefe’s move from Transnet to Eskom, and that the move was prompted because the Guptas wanted to replace the erstwhile CEO, Brian Dames, who was not playing ball with the Guptas. He also allegedly told her about Siyabonga Gama’s imminent return to Transnet Freight Rail, which he supported.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Mngoma claimed that Gigaba had told her that he intended to approach Gama to get his sister, Gugu Gigaba, employed at Transnet. She was subsequently employed at Transnet and remained employed there at the time of the commission’s final report. Mngoma claimed that, in addition to this interaction, Gigaba had helped his sister Nozipho during a period when she was in financial straits. Mngoma testified that Nozipho lived with them for a time in Pretoria, at which point she was employed by Sahara. Gigaba denied that he had any role in securing this employment, which the commission rejected as implausible.

Mngoma also testified that Gigaba had received benefits from the Guptas. This included a white BMW that was given to Gigaba by Ajay Gupta at the Sahara offices; the car was then given for her use. The commission was, however, unable to verify the existence of the car. She also claimed that, while the Guptas did not attend the Gigabas’ 2014 wedding, they made a cash donation towards the cost of the wedding and their honeymoon in Dubai. Other “donations“ identified by Mngoma included a payment of R425 000 to help pay off the debts of Gigaba’s sister, cash given to Gigaba by the Guptas used to pay school fees, and cash given to Gigaba to pay for renovations to his father’s home in KZN.

Nomachule (Norma) Mngoma, the estranged wife of former Cabinet minister Malusi Gigaba, at the Zondo commission. Picture: Itumeleng English Independent Newspapers

Gigaba, she further alleged, had carried a leather bag into and out of the private meetings at the Saxonwold compound, which would be put into his boot by private protection staff. She claimed to have seen Gigaba removing cash from this bag to transfer it into a smaller shoulder bag during a shopping trip to Sandton City. She also claimed to have interrupted Gigaba while unpacking bundles of cash from the bag into a safe in his study.

Gigaba denied everything, putting up a totally different version. He also pointed out that Mngoma was testifying in the context of their separation and divorce. He claimed that she had used her potential appearance at the commission as leverage during divorce settlement proceedings.

The commission was wary of aspects of Mngoma’s evidence. On certain occasions, she had testified to matters that could not be corroborated, and had deposed to certain issues on oath “without paying proper attention to the contents”. As a result, the commission decided to focus on the “one area of commonality” in their two versions: both Gigaba and Mngoma testified and confirmed that Gigaba had a long-standing association with the Guptas and was particularly friendly with Ajay Gupta.

Gigaba’s own admissions had to be seen in the light of an important piece of context. In 2019, the legal and audit firm Fundudzi investigated wrongdoing at Transnet. In his interview with Fundudzi investigators, Gigaba claimed that he had no relationship with the Guptas. “The fact that he chose to cover this up in 2019 is telling,” the commission commented. Gigaba had also denied that he travelled to the Saxonwold compound for anything other than cultural and social events; Mngoma’s evidence suggested otherwise and, most importantly, was corroborated by Riaz Saloojee, the Denel CEO, who testified to Gigaba’s presence at a meeting in Saxonwold.

Malusi and Norma Gigaba at a red carpet event. Photos: Nadine Willis

Mngoma’s evidence also received a degree of support – although not total corroboration – from Witness 3. As I discussed in the chapter on Transnet, Witness 3 was Gigaba’s close protection officer, who testified to handling cash on behalf of Gigaba; on this basis the commission believed there were reasonable grounds to suspect that Gigaba had received cash payments at the Saxonwold compound. That another witness alleged this fact was “sufficiently corroborative to at least give rise to a reasonable suspicion that Gigaba received cash” from the Guptas on two occasions.

So, in two instances at least, the commission found it was likely that Gigaba had received benefits from the Guptas: the first was their employment of Gigaba’s sister at Sahara Computers, which it found was done as a favour to Gigaba, and the cash payments that were made to him in person.

Mngoma’s evidence of Gigaba’s relationship with the Guptas was, in essence, that Gigaba had been captured by the Guptas.

On this, the commission could not agree more.

The commission recounted 10 different situations or incidents in which Gigaba was involved, as Minister of Public Enterprises, in decisions that benefited the Gupta enterprise. These examples included the appointment of Collin Matjila to the board of Eskom, of Gupta nominee Dr Rajesh Naithani to the board of SAA, of Salim Essa to Broadband Infraco, and of Iqbal Sharma as a board member of Transnet (and his ill-fated attempt to get Sharma appointed chairperson).

(Zondo’s) Recommendations:

  • Law enforcement should investigate Gigaba’s receipt of cash from the Gupta residence under PRECCA and POCA, based on the evidence of Witness 3 and Mngoma.
  • Law enforcement should investigate Gigaba for corruption under PRECCA and/or racketeering under POCA related to the employment of his sister Nozipho Gigaba by Sahara Computers in 2013.
  • Law enforcement should investigate Gigaba for corruption under PRECCA and/or racketeering under POCA to determine whether:

– The Guptas contributed cash to the costs of the Gigaba wedding in 2014;

– the Guptas paid for the honeymoon trip of Malusi Gigaba and Mngoma to Dubai in 2014/2015;

– the Guptas gave cash to Gigaba for renovations to Gigaba’s father’s home in KZN;

– the Guptas gave R425000 or more to settle the debts of Malusi Gigaba’s sister Nozipho;

– Ajay Gupta gave Gigaba two watches during trips to Dubai;

– the cash Gigaba received from the Guptas was used to settle his children’s school fees.

Paul Holden, author of Zondo at your Fingertips: The Definitive Guide to the Zondo Commission.

Sunday Tribune