The portrait that emerged of the once-rising star in the ANC Youth League and who made it to several top positions in Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet, was one of an avaricious and ambitious man who tragically sold out principle and service, enabling the capture of the South African state for vast personal gain and colourful bespoke suits.
Norma Gigaba, who has reverted to her maiden name Mngoma despite the couple still being legally married, testified for six gruelling hours before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry in a late-night session on the eve of Freedom Day.
Over 6,000 viewers tuned into the session at its peak on the SABC live stream on YouTube, while thousands of others watched the broadcast on several local TV stations. #NormaGigaba and the #StateCaptureCommission trended throughout the session.
Gigaba made several sensational revelations including that the Gupta family had a “money counter” at their Saxonwold headquarters that looked like an “ATM”.
“Ajay Gupta showed me how it worked,” she told Zondo, adding “you just press and money came out. It was a lot of money.”
She set out how she had spent R4-million in cash, in “dribs and drabs” on the couple’s two-day twin traditional and white wedding in August 2015 and that she had thought her husband had cashed in some Money Market investments to pay for this.
Her husband, she said, who was Minister of Home Affairs at the time, had been accustomed to handling large sums of cash even before their marriage. Malusi Gigaba was appointed Deputy Minister of Home Affairs by Zuma in 2009.
“I found him like that,” Gigaba told the commission.
She said some of the cash had been provided to her husband by Ajay to pay for ANC elections campaigning. In 2013, Malusi Gigaba replaced Ngoako Ramathlodi as head of the party’s elections team.
While the Gupta family and Zuma had been invited to the couple’s lavish wedding, which took place in the Durban Botanic Gardens, they had not attended.
To make up for it, Ajay Gupta had coughed up for a post-wedding, all-expenses-paid trip to Dubai, where the couple stayed in the five-star Waldorf Astoria.
The cash that seemed to follow her husband, Gigaba told the commission, had also been used to pay for renovations to Gigaba’s father’s home in KwaZulu-Natal and to buy suits.
She said that her husband would regularly dish out between R50,000 and R100,000 in cash, which was “normal” for the couple, to pay for her numerous expenses and overseas trips, all of which were posted on her Instagram account at the time.
Norma Gigaba, a keen and committed Insta “influencer”, who has 1.1 million followers, was approached by the commission after she had given an interview to a television channel saying she would be prepared to testify against her husband at the commission.
However, on Monday night, she appeared to backtrack and argued against testifying.
But her reasoning to the commission that her marital status somehow precluded her from testifying against her husband was dismissed by commission chair Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
From Deputy Minister of Home Affairs (2004-2010), to Minister of Public Enterprises (2010-2014), Minister of Home Affairs (2014-2017), Minister of Finance (2017-2018) and then back to Home Affairs (Feb to Nov 2018), Norma Gigaba revealed how the Gupta family and Zuma’s lieutenant and SAA board chair, Dudu Myeni, as well as Ajay Gupta, had influenced her husband’s appointments and actions.
She also set out how her husband was “controlled” by Myeni and Ajay, and that he had begun to resent their interference. When he complained, she said, her husband was informed by Myeni to “remember why you are appointed”.
While Myeni had paid for their honeymoon trip to Mauritius when her husband was Minister of Public Enterprises, the relationship between the two had soured. At some point, she said, Myeni and Gigaba had been “like brother and sister”.
But they began to fall out when Myeni, instead of briefing her husband about SAA, Eskom and Transnet, had instructed him, particularly with regard to SAA and the “Mumbai” route.
When her husband refused to follow Myeni’s orders, the SAA board chair would complain to Zuma, who would then call her husband and say “you need to do this”, Norma Gigaba told the commission.
The same with the Gupta family, said Norma Gigaba.
“Malusi liked Brian Dames [Eskom CEO], while Ajay did not like him.”
She revealed that Malusi Gigaba had been “unhappy” by his appointment to head finance as he had known that then president Zuma had actually wanted Brian Molefe to do the job.
Molefe, former Eskom CEO, had been sworn in as an MP in 2017 after Zuma had fired Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas based on an “intelligence” report.
“We were at a function when he got the call,” Norma Gigaba told the commission, “he was not happy about that”.
Malusi Gigaba, she revealed, had also been unhappy when Zuma had shuffled him from Public Enterprises to Home Affairs, with the instruction by the president to “tighten the country’s borders”.
“He was shocked and hurt by the move,” she said.
Her husband had also told her, she said, that he was fast-tracking the Gupta family’s applications for South African citizenship.
Dressed impeccably in one of her trademark power suits, Norma Gigaba began to sweat as she corroborated earlier evidence by one of her husband’s former protection officers.
The officer, who was not named, testified that Malusi Gigaba was a frequent visitor to the Gupta headquarters at Saxonwold.
Norma Gigaba also corroborated evidence that her husband had moved piles of cash out of the mansion in a leather tog bag placed in the boot of his car. Her husband would later transfer this cash to one of his “man bags” to use during the course of the day.
She told the commission how her estranged husband had desperately attempted to erase data on her cellphone while wrapping up the preparation for his own testimony to the Zondo Commission.
He had said “they will see we have been there so many times”, she told the commission. She had been asked to delete numerous photographs of the couple’s trips.
Norma Gigaba’s unlawful arrest later by the Hawks at the behest of her husband was not discussed, however, she did set out how her passports – both government and personal – had been “stolen”.
The passports, she told the commission, had contained evidence of the once-jet-set couple’s numerous trips abroad.
When her affidavit to the commission was leaked to the media, Norma Gigaba said she began to fear for her life and had received numerous SMS death threats.
While she did not have a copy of the affidavit, she said several people had been desperate to get their hands on it.
“It was so scary, it was getting out of hand,” said the former minister’s soon-to-be-former wife. DM