A former Eskom board member has told the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture that he was not involved in approving a R1.6 billion prepayment for coal supply to Gupta-owned Tegeta in December 2015.
The commission on Thursday continued to hear more Eskom-related evidence. It heard from former Eskom board member Mark Pamensky, who served on the board from 11 December 2014 to November 2016.
Pamensky testified that he recused himself from the decision on the prepayment due to him serving on the Gupta-owned Oakbay Resources and Energy (ORE) at the time.
The commission’s chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, heard from former Eskom board member Pat Naidoo on Wednesday how they approved the prepayment on 9 December 2015 because they were under the impression that it was for Glencore-owned Optimum Coal Mine (OCM).
Pamensky told the commission he was appointed to the Eskom board with effect from 11 December 2014, however, he only accepted his appointment in January 2015 after engaging with the Department of Public Enterprises about his pre-existing directorships.
He said he only knew a handful of his fellow Eskom board members prior to his appointment. Pamensky said he knew former Eskom director Viroshini Naidoo socially for a number of years.
Pamensky also said he not aware that Tegeta would purchase OCM.
Prior to the Guptas purchasing OCM from Glencore in late 2015, the company (OCM) was fined R2.1 billion by Eskom for poor coal quality. However, when Tegeta acquired OCM, Eskom recalculated the coal penalty amount to R254 million.
“What I knew was from the press that they [Eskom] wanted to collect their money. Eskom was adamant in its head [former CEO Brian Molefe] that it wanted to collect the money,” Pamensky said.
“I’m not involved in Eskom that does tender committees, penalties, and fines… I left Eskom in November 2016, this penalty was resolved post my event,” he added.
Pamensky said he had chosen to recuse himself from the ORE board deliberations on Eskom.
“My recusal was based on the ORE board meeting that I will not get involved in anything to do with coal or coal procurement at Eskom,” he said.
Pamensky also said he had attended several events hosted by the Guptas before, including the infamous Gupta Sun City wedding in 2013. He said the invite was for his former employer Blue Label Telecoms, in which he was the chief operating officer (COO) of the company at the time.
But he said he never met the Guptas while at the wedding.
“I never met the Guptas there. There were hundreds of people,” Pamensky said.
Justice Zondo said Pamensky would be called back to the commission to continue with his testimony.
The proceedings were adjourned for the day.