SUZANNE Daniels, the former Eskom’s company secretary, has told the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture that Gupta associate Salim Essa offered her R800 million to reinstate Matshela Koko as the power utility’s acting CEO.
Koko was suspended in 2017 for not declaring his daughter’s involvement in an Eskom-related tender.
Daniels said she was first introduced to Essa by Koko at a meeting where Essa told her that four Eskom executives, including Koko, would be suspended.
She said the second time she met Essa was after a board meeting where Koko’s suspension was discussed. At this time, Koko was the acting CEO.
Daniels said the board was leaning toward reinstating him, something she advised against.
“After the meeting, I went to a filling station before going home. As I was filling up a black Maserati pulls up next to me, and it was Salim Essa. He then asked me why I was not supporting the return of Matshela Koko. I was taken aback because he could recite verbatim what I had said in the meeting,’ said Daniels.
“I said to him there is no way that Koko could become the CEO and he should never come back to Eskom because he was not fit for office. It was at that point that Essa said to me: ‘Name your price and we will do whatever you say.’ He then said to me: ‘I will offer you R800 million if you help us, we will do whatever you say’.”
Daniels told the commission that she rejected the offer.
She told the commission later in 2017 Essa contacted her again. He took her to an apartment where she met Ajay Gupta, Duduzane Zuma and Ben Martins.
They allegedly wanted an update on the court proceedings around the pension fund awarded to former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe.
“I said we were going to see the Deputy Judge President next week to discuss the case management, I did not say anything else. Mr Gupta then responded but not to me, I think he was talking to the people in the room. He just said: ‘We would need to find someone in the DJPs office to move this case out.’
“He then said: ‘This matter would be easier to deal with when Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma comes into power’.”
Daniels said she did not trust the power utility’s 2014 board and that tensions between her and the board escalated. She told the State Capture Commission that she was compelled by law to submit documents to the Public Protector without informing the board.
Daniels said a meeting was later called by board members with former Minister Lynne Brown to discuss the Public Protector and the freezing of some of the board members’ bank accounts.
Daniels also testified that it was at this meeting that she got confirmation that the board was run by the Guptas.
“Board members were complaining that their bank accounts were being investigated and they were being declared politically exposed persons. I’m not quite sure how that meeting ended, but subsequent to that meeting, one of the board directors called me and said she was extremely angry because her account … was threatening to freeze her account and she said to me if these people think that I’m going down alone they have another thing coming. Everybody knows that this board is a Gupta board,” said Daniels.
(COMPILED BY INSIDE POLITICS STAFF)