The heat assailing the influential Gupta family has necessitated the assemblage of strong and very reputable lawyers to stop the public assault of the family’s business interest as well as deflect and dilute the heavy charges leveled against the bourgeois family.
Their lawyer launched a scathing attack on Mentor, who claimed that the social grant crisis was designed by Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini so that the payment contract could be handed to a Gupta-owned company “at the 11th hour”.
“Everything I write down is true,” Mentor told professed yesterday but refused to divulge her sources, only saying she had posted in the public interest.
But Van der Merwe hit back, saying that at some point “one had to add at least an e-mail, or a note or something” to claims so that those who want to comment could do so.
He called Mentor’s post a “completely baseless and vexatious effort to defame the Gupta family”. “She was the instigator in three of four witnesses in the State of Capture report, and I have read what she said and read her evidence – it’s completely baseless.
“It’s obvious she has a vendetta against the [Gupta] family. My advice to my client is to have a summons issued against her, for the defamation that she so intentionally tried to spread as far and wide as possible.”
Van der Merwe said he was also considering launching a courtapplication to interdict Mentor from posting further claims if she could not produce evidence.
Yesterday Mentor found herself the subject of an internet meme as apparently photoshopped images of her with billionaire businessman Johann Rupert were circulated.
The meme, seen on Progressive Professionals Forum president Mzwanele Manyi’s Twitter account with the caption “look what I stumbled upon”, show Mentor in a jet beside Rupert.
Soon after it surfaced, Mentor took to Facebook to call to order those behind the “fake” picture. She said the image was given to the Gupta family’s “poodles to throw into the social media space. They are so very desperate, it’s not funny.”
The former ANC MP made headlines last year when she posted on Facebook that sometime in 2010 she was offered a cabinet position – minister of public enterprises – on dubious conditions by the Guptas, an offer she declined.
Van der Merwe also said it was business as usual at the Bank of Baroda. Last week media reports indicated that the bank was considering closing all accounts linked to the Guptas at month end.
It is the only banking group that still deals with the Gupta interests in South Africa.