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The Zondo commission has heard from Nick Linnell, a former Zimbabwean lawyer now based in Cape Town about how several meetings were held with former president Jacob Zuma, his close friend Dudu Myeni – former SAA chair – and Eskom executives in 2015. The highly secretive encounters would take place at Zuma’s Nkandla and Pretoria residencies to discuss how four executives would be suspended to make way for an enquiry. According to testimonies from Zola Tsotsi, who was the Eskom chairperson at the time, the executives had to be suspended and new executives appointed in their place, presumably Gupta-aligned. Once the chief executive officer Tshediso Matona, group head of technology Koko Matshela, finance director Tsholofelo Molefe and group capital executive Dan Marokane had been officially removed, Eskom effectively became a Gupta playground, Tsotsi alleged. Nick Linnell has provided further insight into how he and Myeni played a pivotal role in making that a reality. – Bernice Maune.
By Bernice Maune
In his own words, Linnell has described his role as a co-ordinating consultant to former SAA Chairperson Dudu Myeni. Speaking at the state capture commission, Linnell said he met Myeni in 2012 while she was the head of the Richards Bay Mhlatuze Water Board.
Linnell was recommended by a fellow colleague, for his work on disciplinary and HR matters at the board, to Myeni who then appointed him at SAA in 2014 as her unofficial legal advisor. While Linnell, a former lawyer contends his role was not that of a practising attorney he does admit to providing labour-related legal advice to Myeni. In his role at SAA, Linnell was paid R167,000 per month and tasked with responding to media queries, compiling statements and handling disciplinary hearings for officials at that parastatal. This occurred despite Tlali Tlali, SAA spokesperson, being present.
On being dubbed ‘Mr Fix It’ by forensic investigator Paul O’Sullivan, Linnell said it was correct that he was roped in to co-ordinate certain matters but the narrative behind the title was misleading.
“I’ve seen reference to that repeated ad naseaum. I think it’s an unreasonable narrative to put it. I was engaged in a number of things where things were fixed but the narrative was probably unreasonable. Certainly, I have performed services for Ms Dudu Myeni, if the brief is to perform a service I would do that,” said Linnell.
- Eskom’s Tsotsi joins dots to JZ: Nkandla hosts SAA’s Dudu Myeni, her ‘Mr Fix It’ Nick Linell
- Zondo Commission: The key players in how Guptas captured Eskom (by firing Tshediso Matona)
- Eskom board member Klein on ‘Gupta finance minister’ Des van Rooyen; what she told Zondo
Linnell was questioned about meetings held with Zuma in March 2015 to discuss Eskom. In one meeting, Zuma welcomed them and said “what are we discussing today?”
In addition, Linnell said Myeni, her son Thalenthe, a man named Jabu Maswganyani, ex-Eskom chairperson Zola Tsotsi were present at two meetings.
“However Mr Tsotsi’s reference to Mr Myeni at the meeting jogged my memory with regards to another person present but not mentioned by Mr Tsotsi. A young black African male possibly named Jabu. He was not specifically introduced but clearly he had insight.
“In addition, Jabu I think had a number of documents that dealt with a number of alleged events at Eskom. These were largely from unidentified sources and unverified content…in part some of these did not provide value in scoping an investigation,” read Linnell’s affidavit.
With the first meeting, Linnell flew from Cape Town to KZN where he joined the meeting at Nkandla. The second meeting would happen at Zuma’s presidential residence in Pretoria.
On the agenda was load-shedding which Linnell claims the intent was to find out why the blackouts were occurring. He said the discussions were jovial and in one instance, the meeting lasted four to five hours. On suspending the four Eskom executives, Linnell stated the discussions were centred around the approach to remove the four and not if it should happen.
Watch the full testimony by Nick Linnell at the Zondo commission below.
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