Johannesburg - The wealthy and powerful Gupta family has been linked to the child of another ANC heavyweight.
Free State premier and ANC national executive committee member Ace Magashule
’s 27-year-old son, Tshepiso, has “borrowed” one of the Gupta family’s luxury cars – a silver two-door BMW Z4 – and works for one of the family’s companies.
Tshepiso Magashule is employed by Mabengela Investments – a company belonging to the youngest Gupta brother, Tony, and President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane.
The Guptas have been facing intense public scrutiny over their proximity to top politicians including Zuma, cabinet ministers and opposition party leaders.
The family claims they are unfairly targeted and their intentions are to befriend ministers, not to benefit from government tenders.
This week, Atul Gupta admitted that Magashule jnr drove a family BMW. He said: “We’ve got many cars – 30, 40 to 200. I don’t know. Perhaps it’s 10 years old (the BMW), a scrappy car. If someone borrows (the car) for a day, what is the problem?”
Atul Gupta’s former driver, John Maseko, told City Press that Tshepiso Magashule left his Volkswagen Polo at the Gupta family’s Johannesburg mansion when he collected a BMW Z4 belonging to the family in November last year.
But Gupta slammed Maseko this week, questioning his motive for speaking to City Press. “John absconded after he accidented (sic) two cars, a (Audi) Q7 and an (BMW) X5. He caused R300 000 to R400 000 damage.”
Maseko confirmed he was involved in a bumper-to-bumper accident with the Guptas’ cars in January, but claims it was not his fault. He quit in February because “Atul and I did not get along any more”.
According to Maseko, Tshepiso Magashule fetched the BMW Z4 in November and he returned to the Gupta compound in January to fetch his silver Polo.
“He came back to fetch his car some time in January. But he took both cars,” said Maseko.
This is disputed by Free State premier Ace Magashule
’s spokesperson Wisani Ngobeni, who told City Press Magashule jnr “borrowed” the Gupta car for a few days because he had problems with his own car. “The car has now been returned and he is driving his own car,” he said.
Ngobeni said there was nothing improper about the premier’s son using the car as he was in the employ of Mabengela Investments, which is owned by Zuma’s son Duduzane and the youngest Gupta brother, Tony.
Mabengela shares an office with the Guptas’ Sahara Computers in Midrand.
“As an employee, Tshepiso from time to time uses company cars for work purposes. His work is related to his qualifications,” Ngobeni said.Zille involved
Tshepiso Magashule holds a national diploma in logistics management from the Vaal University of Technology.
According to the Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office (Cipro), Tshepiso is a director of four companies and a member in six closed corporations.
Ngobeni hit out at City Press, saying the newspaper was invading Tshepiso’s privacy for enquiring about his use of the Guptas’ car. “Although Tshepiso Magashule is the son of the premier of the Free State, his right to privacy must be protected.
“We believe that enquiries of this nature by journalists may amount to violation of the privacy of Tshepiso Magashule and are devoid of ethical journalism,” he said.
Maseko said he once saw Ace Magashule
, in a silver Mercedes Benz, visit the Guptas for the Diwali festival in October last year. Ngobeni confirmed the visit.
Asked about the family’s relationship with Magashule in an interview last week, Ajay Gupta said he, former minister Essop Pahad
(a Sahara director) and a team from the family’s The New Age newspaper met Magashule in Bloemfontein for a “presentation”.
The Free State government has been one of the main advertisers in The New Age. On Monday, after Magashule delivered his state of the province address, The New Age published a four-page supplement on the speech, written by reporters from the newspaper. Ngobeni said the province advertises in many newspapers, including City Press.
Meanwhile the Western Cape premier and leader of the DA, Helen Zille
, this week refused to confirm or deny that she visited the Guptas in October last year.
City Press was reliably told that Zille entered the Guptas’ compound with her driver and went into the family house alone. Her spokesperson Priya Reddy
said it was party policy not to disclose the identity of donors.