'Gupta tea or coffee party a lie'

Meetings: Deputy minister admits to meeting the controversial brothers at least three times

10 November 2017 - 06:43
By Bianca Capazorio
Ben Martins
Image: GALLO IMAGES Ben Martins

Deputy Public Enterprises Minister Ben Martins has accused an Eskom official of being a "liar" and "clueless ignoramus" after she said he had attended a meeting with Ajay Gupta and Duduzane Zuma earlier this year.

But Suzanne Daniels told EWN on Thursday that she stood by her version of the story.

Martins could not say where he had been on July 29, the day that suspended Eskom company secretary Daniels testified she had met Gupta and Duduzane at a Melrose Arch townhouse, where they allegedly conspired to delay former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe's court case.

But Martins admitted meeting the Gupta brothers on at least three occasions.

At a press conference called to address Daniels' testimony before the public enterprises committee's inquiry into state capture, Martins said he had met Daniels on three or four occasions in work settings.

He said he had never attended a "phantom tea or coffee party", as alleged by Daniels, and would consider taking legal action against her. 

Questioned about whether he had met the Guptas, Martins said he had met them on three occasions - the first as deputy public enterprises minister in 2013 at an Indian food fair at their home in Saxonwold. He said he had attended in his personal capacity and the event had been open to "anyone and everyone".

He said he had met "the middle Gupta brother, I forget his name" at a The New Age breakfast while he was transport minister.

Martins said during his time as transport minister, Tony Gupta had been in his home with Lucky Montana, former CEO of the Passenger Rail Agency of SA.

He said then Prasa chairman and current Deputy Finance Minister Sfiso Buthelezi and Montana were concerned about rumours that the Guptas were trying to have them fired and replaced.

Martins said he had called Tony Gupta and Montana to his home to get to the bottom of the issue.