he Presidency on Sunday slammed a media report suggesting that President Jacob Zuma owned a R330-million Dubai mansion purchased by the Gupta family.
“The story in the Sunday Times newspaper…that President Jacob Zuma owns a "palace" in Dubai is a fabrication,” said presidential spokesperson, Bongani Ngqulunga, in a statement.
“President Zuma does not own any property outside South Africa and has not requested anybody to buy property for him abroad.”
Ngqulunga also said that the president had not received or seen emails mentioned in the article – and furthermore, he had “no knowledge of them”.
The Sunday Times published a report alleging that recently leaked emails confirmed that a mansion worth R330-million purchased by the Guptas in 2015 was intended for Zuma.
The home, located in the luxurious Emirates Hill suburb, has ten bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, nine reception rooms, space for 11 cars and a large pool surrounded by palm trees. It is located in the same neighbourhood as a property owned by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace.
Three draft letters
The newspaper claimed that three draft letters, bearing Zuma’s name and seemingly prepared for Zuma’s signature, were found amongst recently leaked emails.
The third draft letter, sent by Tony Gupta to Sahara CEO Ashu Chawla and Duduzane Zuma, lists the Emirates Hill property as Zuma’s proposed residence.
Addressed, as the other drafts are, to His Highness Vice-President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the third letter declares that Zuma is “happy to inform you that my family has decided to make the UAE and specifically Dubai, a second home.” The villa’s exact address is then listed.
The letter goes on to suggest it would be a “great honour for me and my family to gain your patronage during our proposed residency in the UAE”.
It mentions “security issues” as a particular concern since Zuma’s son and his family “will be travelling quite extensively”.
The Sunday Times article also reported that a R17.8-million apartment in Burj Khalifa had been purchased by Duduzane Zuma, through Wens Holding Ltd, a company he co-owns with the Guptas.
amaBhungane and Scorpio reported on Saturday that Duduzane Zuma was given residency of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates in October 2015, a few months before the letters stating Zuma and his family intended to make the UAE a second home.
Duduzane's profession on the coveted residency is listed as “investor” and his sponsor “Lion Gate Electronics Trading”.