State capture: Matshela Koko introduced me to Gupta aide Salim Essa, claims Daniels
Former senior manager and company secretary at Eskom, Suzanne Daniels, claimed ex-Eskom acting CEO Matshela Koko introduced her to the Gupta family's foot soldier, businessman Salim Essa.
Daniels was giving evidence at the state capture inquiry in Braamfontein on Tuesday.
According to Daniels, Koko called her on March 10 2015 to request that they meet at Melrose Arch in Johannesburg. Daniels testified that she waited for Koko for more than an hour at a restaurant in the shopping complex..
She said when Koko arrived, he asked that they walk across the street to an office building.
Daniels testified that they proceeded to the first floor, where she was told to leave her mobile phone at reception.
Former Eskom secretary and senior manager Suzanne Daniels took the stand at the state capture inquiry on September 15 2020. She testified about how former company acting CEO Matshela Koko introduced her to the Gupta family's "foot soldier", businessman Salim Essa, in 2015. She alleged Essa introduced himself as the adviser to then-minister of public enterprises, Lynne Brown.
They were then led into a boardroom where they waited for a few minutes.
“A gentleman walks in and introduces himself as Salim Essa, and says he is the adviser to (former) minister (Lynne) Brown.
“I was surprised. I looked at Mr Koko, who sat there quite comfortably.”
Daniels said Essa then asked her what needed to be done if one wanted to suspend people at Eskom.
“Mr Essa then proceeds to tell me that in the coming days, the four executives — namely Tshediso Matona, Dan Marokane, Tsholofelo Molefe and Matshela Koko — would be suspended from Eskom,” said Daniels.
“I look at Mr Koko and he was unfazed by this revelation.
“Mr Essa then proceeds to tell me there will be an inquiry into the affairs of Eskom and certain people would not return,” Daniels claimed.
“I was quite shocked.”
Daniels said the meeting ended and Koko walked her out, but he “remained behind”.
Inquiry chairperson deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo was not convinced.
'Koko is lying'
He quizzed her about why she went into a meeting without knowing its purpose and agenda if she had nothing to do with what was discussed.
He said it was either that Koko and Essa trusted Daniels, or she was willingly complicit in whatever agenda they were pushing.
Koko has rubbished Daniels' claims in an affidavit he filed with the inquiry.
According to Koko, he did meet Daniels on the day at the restaurant, but claimed their meeting never moved to the office building, as alleged by Daniels
“Mr Koko, in his affidavit, says he agrees calling you to Melrose Arch and meeting you at the JB Rivers restaurant, but says you did not go anywhere else. He says the two of you stayed at JB Rivers,” said evidence leader advocate Pule Seleka SC.
“He says he wanted you to advise him on a labour-related issue because he was being threatened with suspension by Mr Zola Tsotsi if he did not reverse the suspension of Mr Malesela Sekhasimbi.”
Daniels replied: “With respect chairperson, Matshela Koko is lying.”
Former company secretary and head of legal Suzanne Daniels took the stand at the state capture inquiry on September 15 2020. Daniels testified about her meeting with Ajay Gupta, Duduzane Zuma and others in a dimly lit room near Melrose Arch in July 2017 to discuss Brain Molefe's case against the energy SOE.