#StateCaptureInquiry Today @StateCaptureCom, #Eskom's former legal and compliance head Suzanne Daniels is testifying. In the last few minutes, she has detailed how she met Salim Essa. According to Daniels, Matshela Koko arranged to meet her at Melrose Arch on 10 March 2015.
#StateCaptureInquiry Daniels says she waited for Koko at JB Rivers at Melrose Arch. After about an hour, he met her and together they walked to a nearby building. They entered and she had to hand in her phone at reception, says Daniels. They were then ushered into a boardroom.
#StateCaptureInquiry Daniels maintains when she sought details on where they were going and the meeting's purpose, Koko told her to be patient. "Then this gentleman walks in, introduces himself to me as Salim Essa and that he is the adviser to Minister Brown," says Daniels.
[EARLIER] #StateCaptureInquiry Chair Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo asks, "Is that what he said? Daniels replies, "Yes." She soon adds, "I was quite surprised cause I hadn’t heard of him [Essa] before. I looked at Mr Koko and he just sat there quite, uh, quite comfortable."
#StateCaptureInquiry Daniels testifies Essa (with Koko present) proceeded to ask her "what do we need to do if we want to suspend people" and she was "perplexed" by this. Daniels claims Essa then "sketches out that in the coming days the four executives [...] will be suspended."
#StateCaptureInquiry Daniels claims on hearing Essa speak of upcoming suspensions (including that of Koko) she looked at Koko "because he’s sitting in the room and he’s actually unfazed by this revelation" and thereafter Essa told Daniels there would be an inquiry at #Eskom.
[EARLIER] #StateCaptureInquiry Zondo presses Daniels on her testimony reporting Essa raised the suspensions and inquiry in the 10 March 2015 meeting with Essa. He grills Daniels on why it was not included in her written statement to the @StateCaptureCom.
#StateCaptureInquiry Zondo needles Daniels further, querying her over her testimony asserting in the 10 March 2015 meeting Essa forecast the suspension of #Eskom executives to be followed by an inquiry. Zondo asks if she included this in her evidence to the portfolio committee.
#StateCaptureInquiry Evidence leader Advocate Pule Seleka SC observes several witnesses have recorded meeting at JB Rivers. He then refers Daniels to Koko's version, in which Koko says he met Daniels at JB Rivers in Melrose Arch and they remained there to discuss a labour issue.
Seleka relays Koko's version (in which they do not leave JB Rivers for a second location and discuss his threatened suspension) and asks for Daniels response. "With respect, Mr Chairman, Matshela Koko's lying," she says. "He collected me at JB Rivers and took me to the office."
#StateCaptureInquiry "He definitely did not ask me advice on an impending suspension," says Daniels. She disputes Koko's versions of events the day she says Koko met her at JB Rivers in Melrose Arch and took her to meet Essa (on her version, without her knowing this purpose).
Daniels faces a grilling from Zondo, especially on the exclusion in her written statement of the report of Essa asking about the suspensions process, and Daniels agreeing to a meeting with Koko during working hours which was off-site from #Eskom's and for an undefined purpose.
"I had no reason not to trust him. He was fastidious, he was meticulous, he followed Eskom's processes. At that point it was a good relationship," says Daniels of Koko. This arises in the context of Seleka asking why she was invited to the meeting. Was it because she was trusted?
[EARLIER] To paraphrase, Seleka asks Daniels if she was essentially part of a club (was she someone trusted, who would cooperate and be discrete). Seleka poses that may why Koko would have invited Daniels to meet Essa. "It is something that I also don't understand," says Daniels.
#StateCaptureInquiry "I would just urge you to look at the Guptas' modus operandi. I was not offered bags of cash. I was not entertained at the Saxonwold residence. I was not in Dubai at the largesse of the Guptas. I was certainly not a member of the Oberoi club," says Daniels.
[NOTE] #StateCaptureInquiry Please note I am several minutes behind the live proceedings, mostly on account of working to transcribe direct speech accurately. Additionally, my reflections are by no means comprehensive. For that, best to watch the sitting via live stream. 📺💻
#StateCaptureInquiry The lunch adjournment is underway and Daniels is set to continue her testimony on #Eskom from 14:10. You can follow proceedings in real time online, including via the @eNCA live stream below.
#StateCaptureInquiry Proceedings have resumed. Daniels says "she had the occasion to meet Mr Ajay Gupta" in late July 2017. "I was called by Salim Essa and the conversation was actually about Mr Molefe's pension matter. It was before court at the time," begins Daniels.
#StateCaptureInquiry Daniels says, "Mr Salim Essa called me [...] the introduction was about the Molefe matter, Brian Molefe's pension matter, that was before court. I said to him, 'Brian's going to lose that matter.' And he then said, 'Let's meet for coffee.'"
#StateCaptureInquiry Since proceedings resumed after lunch, Daniels has detailed her interactions with Essa. They include, on her version, Essa confronting her at a petrol station near Megawatt Park in 2017 over her address to a committee in a phone call earlier the same day.
[EARLIER] #StateCaptureInquiry Daniels says Essa pulled up at the petrol station in a black Maserati (this was sometime in 2017, she says). "He motions to me to get out and I get out and he says why are you not supporting the return of Matshela Koko?" testifies Daniels
#StateCaptureInquiry "I was taken aback because of the meeting that happened before. He could recite verbatim what I had said at the meeting," continues Daniels. Zondo confirms she is referring to what she said at the telephonic meeting with #Eskom's audit and risk committee.
#StateCaptureInquiry "I was literally quite shocked and I it took me a while to compose myself because the first thing I thought was, 'How the hell does he know what I said?'" continues Daniels. She claims Essa then told her to "name her price" to support Koko's return.
#StateCaptureInquiry Daniels alleges Essa next offered her R800-million to secure her support for Koko's return to Eskom as CEO. "I looked at him and I said, 'Don’t be ridiculous.' And I actually scoffed and burst out laughing," she says. Afterward, Daniels reports she drove off.
Daniels has also described Essa arranging to meet her in the foyer of a Melrose Arch hotel sometime after the petrol station interaction (still in 2017). She claims he ushered her toward what she thought was an office block, but which turned out to be a nearby townhouse complex.
Daniels reports as Essa opened the door of the building she realised it wasn't an office. "As I walked in the curtains were drawn so it was not very brightly lit but in this room in the lounge area was Ajay Gupta, Duduzane Zuma, Minister Ben Martins and an Asian lady," she says.
[EARLIER] "At that stage I was in total shock as to what I had walked into, Salim continued to introduce me to Ajay Gupta and to Duduzane Zuma and to... Obviously, I knew Minister Ben Martins... And to the lady that was there. He then asked me to sit down," continues Daniels.
#StateCaptureInquiry Daniels claims Essa spoke to Ajay Gupta in a language she did not speak, and then Essa indicated she should provide an update on the court case over Molefe's pension.
#StateCaptureInquiry "I just said in terms of process I said we were going to see the Deputy Judge President’s office the next week […] and we would be discussing the case management," said Daniels.
#StateCaptureInquiry She continues, "Mr Gupta then responded but not in particular to me. I think he was talking to the people in the room, you know? He just said this, you know: we would need to find someone in the DJP’s office to move this case out."
[EARLIER] #StateCaptureInquiry "That was already one of the shocking statements," says Daniels of Ajay Gupta's reported remarks in the room in which she, Salim Essa, Duduzane Zuma, Ben Martins and an as yet unnamed woman were present around mid-2017.
#StateCaptureInquiry Daniels says Gupta's next shocking statement was "this matter would be easier to deal with when Nkosazana Zuma comes into power" and she realized "whatever skepticism I had about the Gupta family, the influence on the country issues, you know, this was it."
#StateCaptureInquiry Daniels reports various thoughts then ran through her mind, including wondering "are they going to kill me" and recalling no one knew she was in this property. "Okay, you know, just get out of here," Daniels says she thought to herself.
She says Duduzane Zuma sat to her right. To her Ajay Gupta appeared "slovenly" as he was unshaven, wearing an old T-shirt and tracksuit with bare feet, which angered her more. "This man is sitting here and thinking he owns the country, the way that he was speaking," says Daniels.
[EARLIER] #StateCaptureInquiry Daniels says, "He was quite dismissive after that. He spoke to Mr Essa, once again, in vernacular." She indicates the eldest of the three Gupta brothers effectively dismissed her with a flap of his hand.
#StateCaptureInquiry Seleka asks Daniels if she reported this meeting to the board. She replies at this stage in 2017 she did not consider the #Eskom board bona fide. Daniels details papers she furnished to the @PublicProtector, who was investigating allegations of state capture.
[NOTE] #StateCaptureInquiry Please be aware that I am currently about half an hour behind live speech at today's @StateCaptureCom. This is on account of repeating certain sections to ensure accurate transcription. You can monitor in real time via the live streams. Thanks!
#StateCaptureInquiry Seleka queries Daniels on why she met Essa at the African Pride Hotel in Melrose Arch from which, on her version, Essa accompanied her to a townhouse in which she met Ajay Gupta, Duduzane Zuma, Ben Martins and an unnamed woman.
Seleka: Why did you go?
Brown: Well, Mr Chairman. As I earlier alluded too, I was actually morbidly curious at this point. This was the same...
Zondo: No, Ms Daniels. You couldn't gave gone there out of curiosity. No, you couldn't.
Daniels: Let me, let me explain.
[EARLIER] "I mean, this is the man that told you in 2015 about executives that he said would be suspended and you were shocked because he's not part of #Eskom and on your version Mr Koko couldn't explain why he brought you there. You were unhappy about that," says Zondo.
"And now you say about two years later, he calls you over a weekend you agree to go where he wants you to go because you are curious?" an incredulous Zondo says to Daniels. He says Daniels should have wanted to have nothing to do with Essa after he offered her R800-million.
[EARLIER] #StateCaptureInquiry Zondo's volume rises as says to Daniels with clear (and audible) disbelief, "After he has offered you R800-million - CORRUPTION! - you say he called you over a weekend, you agree to go and meeting because you are curious?!"
#StateCaptureInquiry Zondo is critical of Daniels' explanation as to why she met Essa at a Melrose Arch hotel in 2017, following events (as she depicted them) in 2015 when she says Essa offered her an R800-million bribe.
[EARLIER TWEET CORRECTED] #StateCaptureInquiry Zondo's volume rises as *he* says to Daniels with clear (and audible) disbelief, "After he has offered you R800-million - CORRUPTION! - you say he called you over a weekend, you agree to go and meet *him* because you are curious?!"
Daniels says, "I found it quite astounding that someone that I had turned down so flatly..." Zondo says, "Sorry?" He rubs his fingertips, perhaps in irritation. Daniels repeats her point. Zondo interjects, "You should not be wanting to TALK to that person after that, Ms Daniels."
[EARLIER] #StateCaptureInquiry The Chair's incredulity rises. Zondo tells Daniels, "You should not be wanting to take his calls after he has offered you R800-million to do something wrong. You should not be wanting to talk that person."
#StateCaptureInquiry Zondo continues, "You should not be taking his calls. If you had his number, you had saved his number you should block his number. Isn't it? So what are you doing wanting to meet him over a weekend?" A pause. He adds, "Out of curiosity?"
[NOTE] #StateCaptureInquiry Kindly note, again: my threat is not in sync with the live proceedings. In order to accurately reflect direct speech, I repeatedly review certain segments of a sitting and this decelerates my progress.
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