Suzanne Daniels says Ajay Gupta deliberate to stall a courtroom case over Brian Molefe’s R30m pension payout from Eskom till Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma was in energy. Daniels alleges Duduzane Zuma and Ben Martins had been current when the eldest Gupta brother stated so in 2017.
Suzanne Daniels, former head of authorized and compliance at Eskom, claims she met a “slovenly” Ajay Gupta within the presence of Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane Zuma and others in late July 2017.
Testifying on the State Seize Inquiry on Tuesday, Daniels described how Gupta appeared “slovenly” to her, as he was carrying an previous T-shirt and tracksuit. “This man is sitting right here and pondering he owns the nation, the best way that he was talking,” stated Daniels.
Daniels stated she feared for her life by the top of that assembly:
“Are they going to kill me?” she requested herself.
Daniels claims Gupta wheeler-dealer Salim Essa launched her to the eldest Gupta brother, Ajay, within the presence of Duduzane Zuma, former minister of transport Ben Martins, and a girl whose title she can’t recall.
Banking on NDZ
Daniels stated Ajay Gupta wished particulars on litigation over Brian Molefe’s R30m pension payout from Eskom. Daniels advised Gupta of an upcoming assembly on case administration with the workplace of the deputy choose president (DJP) and scheduled for early August 2017.
“I believe he was speaking to the folks within the room, you recognize? He simply stated this, you recognize, we would want to search out somebody within the DJP’s workplace to maneuver this case out,” testified Daniels.
Gupta allegedly introduced “this matter could be simpler to cope with” when Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma “comes into energy” and this shocked Daniels. Her scepticism in regards to the Gupta household and their affect on South Africa vanished. Daniels stated, “This was it.”
No, Ms Daniels!
Nonetheless, she was topic to ever louder reproach from Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo for even agreeing to fulfill Essa within the lobby of a Melrose Arch lodge in July 2017. Zondo slammed Daniels for agreeing to fulfill Essa two years after a gathering which she stated left her sad.
Daniels testified she first met Essa at his workplace in Melrose Arch in March 2015, when he predicted the suspension of 4 Eskom executives (extra on that beneath). Proof chief advocate Pule Seleka SC requested the plain query in regards to the assembly in the identical space in 2017, “Why did you go?”
Daniels started, “Properly, Mr Chairman. As I earlier alluded to, I used to be really morbidly curious at this level. This was the identical…”
Zondo interjected, “No, Ms Daniels. You couldn’t have gone there out of curiosity. No, you couldn’t.”
The witness started, “Let me, let me clarify…”
Zondo once more interjected. “That is the person that advised you in 2015 about executives that he stated could be suspended and also you had been shocked as a result of he’s not a part of Eskom,” stated Zondo. “And now you say about two years later, he calls you over a weekend, you comply with go the place he desires you to go since you are curious?”
His voice rose. “After he has supplied you R800-million – CORRUPTION! – you say he referred to as you over a weekend, you comply with go and meet him since you are curious?!”
Daniels started, “I discovered it fairly astounding that somebody that I had turned down so flatly…”
“Sorry?” Zondo curtly interrupted.
The witness repeated her level. Zondo was incensed: “You shouldn’t be desirous to TALK to that particular person after that, Ms Daniels. You shouldn’t be desirous to take his calls after he has supplied you R800-million to do one thing mistaken.”
Zondo additional chastised Daniels, saying that after what occurred in 2015 she mustn’t have taken Essa’s calls, and may have blocked his quantity.
“So what are you doing wanting to fulfill him over a weekend?” Zondo paused. “Out of curiosity?”
Gentle my ire
A number of occasions throughout the day’s proceedings Daniels raised Zondo’s ire. His physique language, tone of voice and speech demonstrated his rising reservations relating to important parts of her proof.
Early on, Zondo shot questions at Daniels over a declare she made about Essa. Daniels testified she first met Essa on 10 March 2015 after Matshela Koko, then an government at Eskom, organized to fulfill her at JB Rivers in Melrose Arch.
Daniels claims Koko led her to a close-by workplace block the place, upon reaching a reception space, she was required handy in her cellphone. They waited in a boardroom, she stated.
“Then this gentleman walks in, introduces himself to me as Salim Essa and [says] that he’s the adviser to Minister [of Public Enterprises Lynne] Brown,” testified Daniels.
She stated Essa sought her enter on how one can droop Eskom executives and forecast that 4 executives, together with Koko, could be suspended. Koko was unfazed, stated Daniels, who reported she was sad about assembly Essa.
Seleka relayed Koko’s model, wherein he met Daniels at JB Rivers in Melrose Arch and so they remained on the restaurant to debate a labour matter. “With respect Mr Chairman, Matshela Koko’s mendacity,” replied Daniels. “He undoubtedly didn’t ask me recommendation on an impending suspension.”
Zondo quibbled with Daniels’ model, wherein Essa predicted executives would face suspension adopted by an inquiry. He pressed Daniels as to why this necessary info was absent from her affidavit to the inquiry.
Seleka sought to determine why Koko would have chosen Daniels to attend a gathering with Essa in 2015. Put otherwise: was Daniels a trusted ally of capturers at Eskom or a stooge in a far larger scheme, as she has sought to depict herself since blowing the whistle?
“I might simply urge you to have a look at the Guptas’ modus operandi. I used to be not supplied luggage of money. I used to be not entertained on the Saxonwold residence. I used to be not in Dubai on the largesse of the Guptas. I used to be definitely not a member of the Oberoi membership,” stated Daniels.
But, later Daniels testified she was supplied a bribe. She claims Essa approached her at a petroleum storage close to Eskom’s Megawatt Park headquarters in 2017 and supplied her R800-million to assist Koko (then suspended) return as Eskom CEO.
Earlier that day, Daniels stated, throughout a telephonic assembly, she introduced findings relating to Koko’s conduct to Eskom’s audit and danger committee. She argued in opposition to Koko’s return.
Identify your value
After leaving Megawatt Park, Daniels stopped at a close-by petrol storage and seen a black Maserati pull up. It was Essa, stated Daniels, who relayed her remarks throughout the telephonic assembly verbatim. He quizzed her on why she didn’t help Koko’s return.
“The subsequent minute he stated to me, ‘I’ll give you R800-million for those who assist us and we are going to do no matter you say,’ ” stated Daniels. “I checked out him and I stated, ‘Don’t be ridiculous.’ And I really scoffed and burst out laughing.” Daniels claims she then entered her automotive and drove away.
Daniels offered the inquiry with worthwhile perception into Eskom’s affairs throughout a torrid time of illegality and all however absent governance. Her testimony has revealed her personal culpability and her motives have, understandably, come beneath scrutiny.
Whereas heralded as brave in some quarters, an inquiry into her conduct at Eskom discovered Daniels responsible on three counts. She was fired from Eskom in 2018, after a number of months’ suspension. Daniels’ look earlier than Zondo demonstrates the dangers and complexities concerned in blowing the whistle. DM