JOHANNESBURG — In a previous interview he did with Stephen Grootes (which was set up and then buried by now-defunct PR firm Bell Pottinger, only to then be leaked later); Ajay Gupta came across as a lying, incoherent man. However, Ajay’s lack of finesse appears to be his trademark. In Parliament yesterday, Eskom’s suspended head of legal compliance, Suzanne Daniels, blew the whistle on a bizarre meeting she had with Ajay in a Melrose Arch apartment in July this year. At that meeting, Gupta hardly had the decency to even wear shoes. Dressed in his grey tracksuit pants and a T-shirt, the bare-footed Ajay was then arrogant enough to claim that he could control when and how Brian Molefe’s upcoming Eskom pension payout court case would happen. Ajay wanted to approach top judiciary officials to persuade them that Molefe’s case should only be heard after the ANC’s December elective conference. Luckily, Suzanne Daniels has a spine – she walked away from that meeting feeling disgusted. She promptly instructed her team to ensure that Molefe’s case goes ahead earlier than December. That hearing is now scheduled for November 29. In Parliament, she also detailed a strange meeting with Salim Essa. It’s interesting to note that when Daniels started probing Eskom’s Trillian deal earlier this year, she was promptly suspended by the company. South Africans are lucky to have people like Daniels and, hopefully, she will return one day to Eskom to clean up the mess. – Gareth van Zyl
By Thulasizwe Sithole
Eskom’s suspended head of legal compliance, Suzanne Daniels, dropped another bombshell on the Guptas’ shady business empire in Parliament on Wednesday.
Read more top stories on BizNews: Tell them to bring on the legal empty horses: Pierre De Vos to Jacques Pauw
Testifying before a parliamentary committee probing the capture of Eskom, Daniels detailed two controversial meetings she had with Gupta lieutenants.
The most recent meeting happened on July 29 this year in the vicinity of the African Pride Hotel in Johannesburg’s Melrose Arch complex, just days after the controversial Gupta email leaks started making headlines.
The meeting was initiated by former Trillian owner, Salim Essa, a known Gupta ally and aide.
What makes the timing of the meeting interesting is that Essa, on July 26 (just three days before the meeting with Daniels), had announced that he sold his 60% stake in Trillian to the company’s current CEO Eric Wood.
The sale came amid increasing pressure on Trillian over its alleged corrupt activities and revelations about the company in the Gupta email leaks, which also started making headlines in July this year.
Daniels told Parliament that upon meeting Essa at Melrose Arch, they went up to an apartment where Ajay Gupta, Duduzane Zuma, Deputy Public Enterprises Minister Ben Martins and an unidentified Chinese woman were present. (Trillian also happens to have an office in the Melrose Arch complex.)
Read more top stories on BizNews: Right of Reply: Angry KPMG says Biznews, Abedian has defamed them
Describing Ajay Gupta, Daniels said he was bizarrely wearing just a “grey track pants, no shoes and a t-shirt.”
Daniels then says the curious gathering of men wanted to discuss legal matters relating to former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe. Trade union Solidarity, the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters have taken Molefe to court as they want his R30m Eskom pension payout ruled unlawful and set aside. The matter is expected to be heard in court on November 29.
Suzanne Daniels reported Trillian theft to Eskom Board & MInister Brown. Was instructed to shred it. She didn't & handed to #EskomInquiry
— Anton Eberhard (@AntonEberhard) November 9, 2017
Here are some quotes from Daniels, from various media sources, about her encounter with Ajay Gupta who, at first, asked her “how far” Eskom was with the case:
“The gist of what I could gather, he was saying he would have to talk to someone in the deputy judge president’s office and to make sure that the hearing takes place after December 2017.”
“It was very difficult to understand him because he speaks with a very strong Indian accent.
“I was really praying to God that they don’t kill me because I thought I had walked into a trap. All those kind of things go through your head.”
“I could not believe where I was and what I was hearing. There was some mumbling and then I left.”
After the meeting, a disturbed Daniels said she instructed her team to “make damn sure we get a hearing date before December”.
She further told Parliament how she’s since received death threats, attempted break-ins at her home and been intimidated on the roads.
Daniels also described her first meeting with Essa at Melrose Arch which happened in March 2015.
Suzanne Daniels confirms that @Eskom_SA R595m went directly to the Guptas' Tegeta, and not to Optimum, which Eskom ostensibly was funding.
— SikonathiMantshantsh (@SikonathiM) November 8, 2017
She described how Eskom’s now suspended acting-CEO, Matshela Koko (who headed up the company’s technology unit at the time) set up the meeting.
Koko then took her to Essa’s Trillian office where she received some strange questions from Essa:
“He asked what would have to be done if you wanted to suspend people.” she said.
Essa then told her that then Eskom CEO Tshediso Matona, financial director Tsholofelo Molefe and two other executives would be suspended.
“Little did I know it would happen the next day.”