The chairperson of the commission of inquiry into state capture, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, has heard that Ajay Gupta allegedly said former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe’s pension payout case would be easier to deal with once Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma got into power.
Zondo was on Tuesday hearing testimony from the former head of legal and compliance at Eskom, Suzanne Daniels, who gave evidence on some meetings and interactions with Gupta business associate Salim Essa, one of which included a meeting in late July 2017 with Gupta, former president Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane, former minister Ben Martins and “an Asian” lady she could not recall the name of.
Ahead of the lunch adjournment, Daniels had told the commission that she first met Essa in 2015 at a meeting facilitated by Eskom group executive of technology at the time Matshela Koko.
Zondo heard that in early 2017, Koko asked her to accompany him to a meeting with then minister of public enterprises Lynne Brown to discuss the matter of independent power producers.
However, this meeting did not materialise as the two ended up at Trillian offices where Koko allegedly met with Essa, while Daniels sat outside of the boardroom where they met, the commission heard.
Daniels told Zondo she was irritated by this and that in June 2017 she came across Essa at a filling station where he asked her what could be done to get Koko, who was on suspension at the time, back to work.
Daniels said a day or two before coming across Essa at the petrol filling station, an audit and risk committee meeting had been held via telephone, in which a debate ensued on whether Koko should be brought back to work following a report finding.
She said during the said meeting, she had suggested that the report needed to be thoroughly interrogated.
Zondo heard that when Daniels met Essa at the filling station, the latter asked why she was not supporting Koko’s return and recited verbatim what she had said at the telephonic audit and risk committee meeting, which she said left her shocked.
Daniels said Essa asked her what could be done to get Koko back to work, which she said was not possible after learning of his involvement “in terms of the tender manipulation”, and that he then allegedly asked her to name her price for her to help get Koko back to work.
Daniels said “the next minute” Essa allegedly offered her R800 million to assist with getting Koko back to work, which she said she turned down and left.
“I was quite shocked,” Daniels said, adding that she had told parliament about this meeting.
Daniels said in late July, Essa called her again and arranged to meet at Melrose Arch, a meeting she said she attended out of being “morbidly curious”.
At this meeting, Essa allegedly wanted an update on Molefe’s pension payout case, which Daniels said she told him that he would lose.
Daniels said Essa then took her to an apartment just outside the mall where Gupta, Zuma, Martins and an “Asian lady” were.
Daniels said at some stage of this meeting, Essa gestured to her that she should tell Gupta about what was happening with Molefe’s case and that she said there was a meeting with the deputy judge president on either 1 or 2 August 2017 to discuss the case.
“And I didn’t say anything else,” Daniels said, adding that Gupta’s response, though not directed to her, was that there was a need to get someone in the deputy judge president’s office to move Molefe’s case out, which she said shocked her, and that it would be easier to deal with the former Eskom CEO’s case when Dlamini-Zuma got into power.
“It was at that moment that I realised that whatever scepticism I had on the Gupta family, the influence they had on country issues, this was it, I did not need any more evidence,” Daniels said.
The commission continues, watch live courtesy of eNCA: