Q&A with Advocate Nazeer Cassim

Eskom whistleblower Suzanne Daniels has been fired on the recommendation of Advocate Nazeer Cassim. Chris Barron asked him...

29 July 2018 - 00:00 By CHRIS BARRON

Shouldn't she have had the protection of a whistleblower?
I found that she was not bona fide. She was opportunistic. She was not candid when she claimed protection because she did not make full disclosure of her role.
She blew the whistle on the main perpetrators, didn't she?
I found it was too little, too late. That which she blew was already in the public domain. It was in the public protector's report, it wasn't new.
You're saying her evidence was of no importance?
It was not key at all. Investigative journalists had already given much greater insight and depth about matters which she knew about.
Surely the fact her evidence was first-hand made it important?
Not at all, because it's all documented. The corruption is so blatant. The whole board is involved, she's involved. And obviously when the writing was on the wall, she said, "No, no, now let me make disclosures." It was too little, too late.
Rather late than not at all, surely?
That's the problem with this country. Everybody when you're caught out wants to come and make disclosures, but the damage is done, the loss is suffered. She's at a salary almost double that of a Supreme Court judge, she's taken the oath to uphold the law, and she's done everything that is wrong. Then, when it's convenient, she wants to make disclosures. I don't see any good in that.
Doesn't this send the wrong message to would-be whistleblowers, that unless you're clean, don't blow the whistle on others?
No. The message is that as a senior executive when you see something is going wrong, if you're too scared to blow the whistle, at least don't participate in that wrong act and then come and say, "I now want to come clean." You can't be opportunistic and take credit simply to advance your own interests.
What were those?
To save herself.
Did she seek assurances that by giving evidence she would save herself?
What overtures were made I can't say.
If she didn't have assurances, why would she assume she'd be saving herself by coming forward?
She was trying to promote her own interests when she came clean. She realised there was now exposure in the press that these people were looting Eskom, that she was in the centre of it and that now she's in trouble. Everybody who's in trouble is now blaming somebody else. That's opportunistic, it's not genuinely coming forward.
Can you say she was trying to save herself when she had no agreement from Eskom that if she came forward she wouldn't be fired?
She was trying to get public opinion on her side.
Whatever their motives, surely we need whistleblowers?
I don't think she fits that model. I don't even think you can rely on her as a state witness.
You don't think her evidence will help to convict the main perpetrators?
Absolutely not. What will help is the objective documents. It's all there.
Was parliament wasting its time listening to her evidence?
Absolutely.

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