Zondo commission: Eskom’s Gupta contracts under the spotlight

The Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture will today hear details of how Eskom entered into a dodgy multi-billion rand coal contract with the infamous Gupta-owned Tegeta Brakfontein mine.

General manager for Eskom’s primary energy division Dan Mashigo will take the stand on Tuesday and is expected to deal with the controversial 2015 coal contract.

Eskom allegedly gave Tegeta preferential treatment despite the Brakfontein coal mine not passing quality checks. The coal supply agreement with Tegeta for the supply of coal from its Brakfontein coal mine was initially valued at approximately R3.7-billion over 10 years.

The commission, chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, has so far heard evidence from Eskom board chair Jabu Mabuza. Mabuza detailed the disciplinary steps taken by the utility’s new board, appointed in 2018, in the midst of state capture allegations.

Mabuza told the commission on Monday that in March 2015 the power utility was dealing with intense load-shedding and four senior executives were suspended as a result. The four were Eskom’s former head of generation Matshela Koko, then finance director Tsholofelo Molefe, chief executive Tshediso Matona, and former group executive for group capital Dan Marokane.

Upon his reinstatement in July 2015, Koko allegedly began leaking confidential documents to Gupta lieutenant and business associate Salim Essa, in a bid to help Gupta-linked companies win tenders at the power utility. Koko allegedly used the email address “[email protected]” to send confidential documents to outside parties.

READ MORE: Koko leaked emails to ‘demonstrate his capabilities to the captors’ — Mabuza

Koko has previously denied allegations he distributed internal Eskom documents. In response to treasury’s investigation into the matter, he said the email address was given to him by Eskom’s former head of legal Suzanne Daniels on the basis that he had to use it to provide information on Eskom’s operations to then board chair Ben Ngubane.

But treasury’s damning 2018 Eskom report found Koko’s explanation to be “improbable”. Daniels alleged that she believed the email address belonged to former public enterprises director general Richard Seleke.

According to Mabuza, Eskom has found emails on its server containing communications between Koko, Daniels and members of the Eskom board with third parties “including persons reasonably believed to be associates of the Gupta family such as Mr Salim Essa and Mr Nazeem Howa [former chief executive of the Gupta family’s Oakbay Investments]”.

The emails allegedly deal with Eskom’s transactions with Tegeta and the power utility’s public position on these transactions from at least July 2015 to August 2016.

Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She covers topics relating to labour, corruption and the law.
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