Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene on Friday pleaded to South Africans to forgive him for his visits to the Gupta compound in Saxonwold, Johannesburg and their family business in Midrand during his terms as Deputy Minister, in 2010, and Finance Minister, in 2014.
His visits to the Gupta home were revealed on Wednesday during his testimony to the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.
He said in a statement on Friday that part of his duty as a public office bearer is to meet South Africans and other stakeholders when they request to do so.
However, he said he was wrong in meeting the Guptas at their residence and not in his office or a public place.
“I say this being mindful of the fact that it is quite common practice, not only in South Africa but globally, for public office bearers to attend gatherings, including dinners, at residences of business people, fellow politicians, and other stakeholders,” Nene said.
Following his testimony at the State capture enquiry on Wednesday, the Economic Freedom Fighters labelled him a liar, unethical and dishonest.
However, Nene assured South Africans that he immediately cut ties with the controversial family after he became aware of the controversy around them.
“In return for the trust and faith that you have placed on me, I owe you conduct as a public office bearer that is beyond reproach. But I am human too, I do make mistakes, including those of poor judgment,” he stated.
He added that he should have disclosed early, and fully, the details of these meetings, in particular those that took place in Saxonwold.
“I, therefore, failed to live up to these ideals. These visits do cast a shadow on my conduct as a public office bearer. I deeply regret these lapses and beg your forgiveness,” he said.
He also briefly addressed the allegations of a questionable investment by the Public Investment Corporation in Mozambique, after it emerged that a business partner of his son scored millions of rand in the deal.
Nene said he was glad that the commission has decided to investigate the allegations.
He also encouraged anyone with evidence to approach the commission and reinforced his commitment to also assist.