'I do not know the fellow': Lynne Brown on Gupta lieutenant Salim Essa

According to the former minister, she met Essa only once — despite Essa telling people that he was Brown's adviser

19 March 2021 - 19:00
By Mawande AmaShabalala
Former public enterprises minister Lynne Brown denied Gupta foot soldier Salim Essa was ever her adviser and said she had only met him once.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER Former public enterprises minister Lynne Brown denied Gupta foot soldier Salim Essa was ever her adviser and said she had only met him once.

Former public enterprises minister Lynne Brown has distanced herself from Gupta foot soldier Salim Essa.

Brown was testifying at the state capture inquiry on Friday.

According to her, she met Essa only once where “I shook his hand” — otherwise, she said, “I do not know the fellow.”

This despite Essa having told people that he was Brown's adviser.

One such occasion of Essa dropping Brown's name, ex-Eskom company secretary Suzanne Daniels previously testified at the Zondo commission, was during a meeting at Melrose Arch when Daniels was with former Eskom executive Matshela Koko.

Brown said Essa was never her adviser — officially or off the books.

“Mr Salim Essa was not an adviser of mine. Other than shaking his hand at some event somewhere, I do not know the fellow,” said Brown.

The former minister also rubbished claims by former Eskom board chairperson Zola Tsotsi that she in December sent him a list of proposed Eskom board committees identical to one Tsotsi had been furnished with by Essa.

Tsotsi has, however, failed to provide the commission with the list apparently sent to him by Brown.

“Why don’t I have that list I sent him? Does the commission have that list Mr Tsotsi claims to have e-mailed to me?” she said.

Tsotsi had previously told the commission that he had subsequently been invited by Brown to her home where she was with Essa and a Gupta brother. At the alleged meeting, as per Tstsi's version, Brown told him that the Eskom board committees would be how Essa had wanted them.

Brown poured cold water on these claims.

“I refute the assertion that these two people [Essa and Gupta] were in my house and that I called him [Tsotsi] into a meeting,” said Brown.

“I do want to say that this is not the first time Mr Tsotsi has made this allegation, I wonder if Mr Tsotsi has ever tried to allocate the date of the day he was at my house.

“Why would I make such a big song and dance getting people into a particular list.”

The commission was continuing on Friday night.

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