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Can Vytjie Mentor’s testimony be trusted after her Hongwane U-turn?

She says after her appearance at the state capture inquiry, she googled Fana Hlongwane's image and realised he is not the man Duduzane Zuma introduced her to.

Former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor gives testimony in the state capture commission of inquiry on 27 August 2018.  Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Vytjie Mentor's admission that she was wrong to implicate Gupta-linked businessman Fana Hlongwane in her submission at the state capture commission has brought the credibility of her testimony into question.

Earlier on Friday, Eyewitness News revealed the contents of a letter the former African National Congress Member of Parliament's lawyers sent to the inquiry this week, where she apologises for naming Hlongwane as the man Duduzane Zuma introduced her to.

Mentor testified at the inquiry and described how the former president's son approached her while en route to China and introduced her to two members of the Gupta family and an unnamed individual.

She says after her appearance at the inquiry, she googled Hlongwane's image and realised he is not the man Zuma introduced her to.

“When I saw images of him on the internet, I realised it’s not the man Duduzane Zuma introduced me to, the man I was introduced to is taller than Fana, and he has broad shoulders.”

In her book No Holy Cows, Mentor writes that the man Zuma introduced her to is Brian Hlongwa.

But at the state capture commission, she conceded that was inaccurate and told the commission the man was actually Hlongwane and not Hlongwa.

She’s now made yet another correction, saying it actually wasn’t Hlongwane.

Constitutional law expert Cathy Powell says: “It’s probably problematic that she’s gone back and forth on the same issue more than once, it’s problematic that she’s actually published on the issue without taking to Google, which could weaken the other evidence that she gave under oath.”

Mentor is now claiming to know the identity of the person Zuma introduced her to.

“Fana Hlongwane is shorter than that man, that man has way broader shoulders than him [Hlongwane], that man had black blemishes on both cheeks.”

Mentor will now be cross-examined by Hlongwane when she returns to the commission on 30 November.

EWN spoke to Mentor on the phone and she confirmed she will apologise to Hlongwane.

“I still maintain Duduzane introduced me to a man, but after I was on the stand, it bothered me that I made an error in my book and at the commission.”

Mentor says she is now working on tracking the person Zuma introduced her to.

“I know he was sitting behind me, I will find him I know how to find him, I know he has sat on two other boards. He is an ex-Robben Islander, I know how to locate him, I don’t worry much.”

On Thursday the commission of inquiry’s legal counsel revealed that it’s started investigating Mentor’s testimony.

Zondo also said it’s important that issues that arose from Mentor’s evidence be properly investigated, saying her evidence could have serious consequences if it was found to be false or even true.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)