It would seem they are now convinced no power or principality can ever get to them. If anyone ever contemplated the Gupta spell will end soon, then it was only a wishful aspiration. In response to more than 30 detailed questions, Brown’s spokesperson Colin Cruywagen simply issued a statement passing responsibility to the Hawks.

New information shows a Gupta web was spun around the minister of public enterprises. But was it a trap for a target or a cocoon for an ally?

Three people close to public enterprises minister Lynne Brown have links to the Gupta family, we can reveal. This casts a new light on her role in the appointment of “captured” directors at state-owned companies and her failure to act against the Guptas’ key enablers.

The three are her personal assistant, her romantic partner and her director general.

This suggests the Guptas engineered several channels to the minister, quite apart from any direct communication they may have had with her.

These links, coupled with her refusal to engage with questions about her own conduct, raise the spectre of Brown’s own capture by Gupta-family interests.

Among queries that Brown declined to answer were allegations she had met personally with members of the Gupta family or their close associates, such as Salim Essa, on at least three occasions, including while attending defence exhibitions in the United Arab Emirates, where some of the family is now based. 

In response to more than 30 detailed questions, Brown’s spokesperson Colin Cruywagen simply issued a statement passing responsibility to the Hawks.

“Minister Brown is on record supporting the Hawks’ investigations into allegations of corruption published by media over the past month or two… The department has been instructed to assist the probe by making documents and officials available to the investigation as required.”

 

Brown’s personal assistant Kim Davids is at the centre of concerns about Gupta influence.

Davids is the daughter of a close associate of the minister, Michelle McMaster, and has been working with Brown in the Western Cape ANC since 2010.

According to a source familiar with the relationship, Davids exercises significant sway over the minister.  Another source said ANC officials in Cape Town had cautioned Brown against taking Davids into the ministry because they viewed her as a loose cannon, but were ignored.

Brown seems to have pulled strings to get her the position.

Davids’ LinkedIn profile suggests she has only a middle-school qualification, but Brown is alleged to have appointed her as a communications director in her department, a post for which a degree is required.

The appointment – a permanent position – gives Davids greater job security and circumvents the usual practice of appointing ministerial staff such as a PA on contract.

Davids is also alleged to have enjoyed influence in areas way beyond her formal role.

An Eskom source said Davids appeared to be more powerful than one would expect from a personal assistant to the point that she would “tackle senior officials” in meetings, “even instructing” them on occasion.

Among the allegations put to Brown was the claim that Davids personally managed the process to select new board appointments to state-owned enterprises during 2015, when some crucial appointments of persons sympathetic to the Guptas were made.

Notable among these was the purge of the Denel board but for one Gupta associate, Johannes “Sparks” Motseki, and the appointment of a new board chaired by Dan Mantsha, whom the #GuptaLeaks have unmasked as another close Gupta associate.

It was put to Brown that Davids’ involvement in the appointment process bypassed established practice and personnel at the public enterprises department. She did not respond.

AmaBhungane previously reported how in about June 2015 the entire Denel board file was uplifted from the department of public enterprises by Brown’s ministerial office and the department was thereafter excluded from the selection process.

Now it appears that Davids was crucial to those events.

Rumours in the department suggested Davids received some board nominations directly from the Guptas or their associates – and was also in regular communication with them.

Neither Brown nor Davids responded to this allegation, but the #GuptaLeaks emails provide some substantiation for those suspicions.

They show that Davids approached Essa, the Gupta lieutenant, in April 2015, apparently about sponsoring a software training course in India for her husband-to-be, Diego Mateus.

Essa forwarded the request to Tony Gupta.