New evidence from the Gupta emails suggests that Atul Gupta knew of claims that former public protector Thuli Madonsela was a CIA spy, just days before state security minister David Mahlobo announced in inquiry into the allegations.
According to The Times on Monday, on February 25, 2015, Mahlobo said that a government investigation had discovered claims that Madonsela had CIA ties based on a blog called africanintelligenceleaks.wordpress.com.
The emails reportedly show that two weeks prior, on February 12, a tip-off was sent to The New Age, containing information from the blog and asking the question, "Is Thulisiwe Nomkhosi Madonsela an agent or a CIA employee?"
Five minutes later the email was reportedly forwarded to Atul Gupta, and two hours later, he forwarded it to Tony Gupta, and Ajay Gupta's son.
To date, the outcomes of Mahlobo's investigation have not been made public, if they exist.
Madonsela told The Times that claims that she was a spy had surfaced before the blog, but the claims all differed.
"This one was a third story, all of them unrelated to each other. They were desperately looking for someone to push the story but they didn't employ people intelligent enough to come up with a credible story. But I didn't know the Guptas were involved," she said.
She said the timing of the email could mean that "either the Guptas gave it to them (the State Security Agency) or the same source did".
"Why on Earth would this anonymous tip-off be sent to Atul Gupta? If it had been sent to The New Age or ANN7 I would say it was random news, but sent to Atul would seem to support the narrative of state capture. I don't know if this was sent to other people but I just find it strange that it was sent to Atul Gupta," she said.
The Times reported that the State Security Agency said its investigation was continuing as of September last year. Spokesperson Brian Dube told the paper he would respond to its questions on Monday.