After power utility Eskom blocked the return of whistle-blower Suzanne Daniels to work in March and slapped her with fresh charges of “serious misconduct”, she has now been dismissed.
The independent chair of her disciplinary hearing, Advocate Nazir Cassim, found her guilty on four charges; he said she breached her duties of good faith, trust and confidence. She should not have distributed “confidential information”, he found.
She was Eskom’s company secretary and head of legal and compliance. She blew the whistle on meetings she had with Ajay Gupta in which the controversial businessman allegedly tried to exert undue influence on her and the parastatal.
The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) declared her previous suspension “unfair”, but Eskom said its new charges stemmed from a 2017 matter that were not covered in the CCMA ruling.
Daniels was accused of “distributing confidential information, settlement of the McKinsey-Trillian matter and payments made to McKinsey and Trillian, as well as her involvement in the Optimum and Tegeta prepayments and guarantee issued by Eskom”.
The CCMA had awarded her five months’ pay as compensation and ordered that she be allowed to return to work.
In November 2017, she testified before the public enterprises committee’s inquiry into state capture about the Guptas’ alleged influence at Eskom.
She was first suspended in October 2017, after she ordered law firm Bowman Gilfillan to issue letters of demand to McKinsey & Co and the Gupta-linked Trillian Capital Partners for payments the companies allegedly received without valid contracts.
She also faced accusations about a team-building exercise she had organised and billed the company for. She ended up settling that bill.