The former head of legal and compliance at Eskom, Suzanne Daniels, on Tuesday told the commission of inquiry into state capture that she was of the belief that executives were removed from Eskom in 2015 to make way for Brian Molefe.
Daniels earlier told the chairperson of the commission, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, that Gupta business associate Salim Essa knew beforehand that then CEO Tshediso Matona, group capital executive Dan Marokane, finance director Tsholofelo Molefe and then group executive of technology Matshela Koko would be suspended.
Zondo heard that the board at the time established a delegation that would deal with the exit of these executives.
Koko met the delegation on 11 May 2015, Zondo heard.
Daniels told Zondo that compared to the meetings the delegation had had with the other executives, where she was present, the one with Koko was “markedly different” in that “there was quite a collegiate, familiar bantering” and that “it was more collegial than the others”, which were adversarial and straight to the point about how the power utility would part ways with those executives.
“He was also given time to explain and he went to great lengths of saying thank you for the opportunity of being heard,” Daniels said, adding that Koko even expressed his shock at his suspension and at some point said this was due to his animosity with then Eskom chair Zola Tsotsi.
She said Koko even coined the phrase that Eskom was in his blood, though
She, however, said she was of the view that Koko was “acting”.
Daniels said former Eskom board member Venete Klein who was part of the delegation meeting Koko at some point asked him if he could fully trust the board again, an opportunity not afforded to the other three executives.
In her affidavit to the commission, Klein said Koko was the one executive who had expressed a wish to get his job back.
“That’s incorrect, in my view, Mr chairman, because they were not given the opportunity to even articulate it properly that they wanted their job back, the first line in the meetings was ‘how do we part ways’,” Daniels said.
Klein also stated that she understood that former finance director, Molefe and Marokane wanted to enter into settlement agreements, hence a delegation was created for this task.
“Mr Chairman, I don’t know the minutiae but from where I was sitting that was not the approach of the board, this delegation was appointed to exit the executives,” Daniels said, adding that, in particular, the other three excluding Koko.
Daniels denied Klein’s claim that she had drafted the suspension letters of the executives along with Essa.
“Mr chairman, my only supposition as to why these people needed to be exited from their positions was to make way for Brian Molefe coming to Eskom and the eventual transferring of Anoj Singh,” Daniels said.
Koko returned to Eskom and was moved from group technology at commercial and went to the generation division within the power utility, Zondo heard.
Daniels said in between the delegation’s meeting with the executives that had to be “exited” Molefe met with the board.
Zondo heard that on 17 April 2015, then minister of public enterprises Lynne Brown had announced Molefe’s secondment to Eskom.
“He literally was parachuted into Eskom, Mr Molefe … he arrived with minister Brown,” Daniels said.