Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises Ben Martins says he cannot say for sure where he was on the day suspended Eskom head of legal Suzanne Daniels said she met with him and a Gupta brother to discuss Brian Molefe’s court case.
Testifying to the portfolio committee on public enterprises, Daniels said she met with Martins, Tony Gupta and Brian Molefe at Melrose Arch, where discussion turned to the R30-million pension payout to Molefe.
She further claimed Gupta indicated he would try to influence the office of the deputy judge president so the case could only be heard after December 2017.
Martin denied he compromised himself by attending an Indian food fair organised by the Guptas at their Saxonwold compound.
“There was no compromise, there was a food fair that they hosted at their property. As I said, it was a public invitation to several ministers and anybody from the public. It was an open meeting that anyone could have attended,” Martin said to journalists as he battled to convince the press conference the public members also received an invitation to attend the event.
Martins also agreed he once met one of the Gupta brothers, together with Sfiso Buthelezi and Lucky Montana, at his house in Pretoria.
He said he called the three men to his house to discuss “an issue relevant to transport”. He said the Prasa officials had complained they were told they would be removed by the Guptas.
“There was an issue with renewal of the board. Lucky Montana and Sfizo Buthelezi wrote me a letter saying they believe the Guptas wanted to remove them. Lucky [Montana] was CEO and Sfiso [Buthelezi] was chairperson.
“I told them nobody will tell me what to do. I made a phone call. In order to resolve this matter, I invited both of them to my house. Subsequently, Sfiso [Buthelezi remained chair and Lucky [Montana] remained the CEO,” he said.
Martins said the only reason he could think of for Daniels to implicate him in parliament was that she was bitter that she had been suspended by Eskom and looked forward to giving the portfolio committee his side of the story.
“The only issue I can think as to why she would seek to place me at a meeting I was not at is linked to Brian Molefe. [It was] my question to her as company secretary and legal adviser, subsequent to that she was suspended. That was not my decision that was taken,” Martins explained.
Calling Daniels “a liar”, Martins couldn’t say exactly where he was on the day that the meeting was alleged to have taken place. This prompted followup questions from the media asking what the basis was for saying she was liar.
“I would have to check my diary where I was on whatever the date it was indicated in July. As I have said, I have never checked my diary. I fully engaged with these allegations when I was in parliament,” Martins concluded.
You can follow the author @Gosebo_Mathope.