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JOHANNESBURG - Suspended Eskom head of legal services, Suzanne Daniels, yesterday slammed her suspension, branding her removal from the power utility unfair, procedurally incorrect and a mockery.

Daniels wants the power utility to pay her legal bills and to compensate her for reputational damage. Eskom has suspended Daniels over, among others, a breakaway session at Kievits Kroon, outside Pretoria, for 20 staff members that cost R66000. Daniels ultimately settled the bill.

Daniels has taken her suspension to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). She yesterday told the CCMA that her suspension in early October was a ruse to get her out of Eskom after she wrote a damning report on the controversial McKinsey and Trillian Capital Partners contract.

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In the report, which was given to Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown, Daniels alleged that several Eskom executives had gone out of their way to ensure that McKinsey and Trillian were paid, even though there was no valid contract. “That is the logical conclusion one gets,” she said. Eskom is taking steps to recover about R1.6billion paid to the two companies.

She was suspended shortly after she penned letters of demand for Trillian McKinsey to repay the R1.6bn.

Daniels said the manner in which Eskom went about her suspension was procedurally incorrect and substantially unfair. “It makes a mockery of employee rights and duties,” she said.

Acting capacity

Eskom interim chief executive Sean Maritz formally suspended Daniels on October 6 last year, which is incidentally the same day he took over the reins at the power utility in an acting capacity.

Daniels cast doubt on whether Maritz had enough time to acquaint himself with the action Eskom intended to take against her. When Maritz took over from Johnny Dladla, moves to suspend Daniels were already under way. She had already been served with a notice of suspension and she had given her representations.

Daniels has previously said her charges were spurious.

Under cross-examination by Eskom legal representative Itayi Gwaunza, Daniels said it was unlikely that, in his first day in the new role, Maritz had not only gone through her representations to charges given to her a few days prior, but also found time to draw up new charges which she said were based on a different set of facts.

“Where did he have time to consider this? It must be all that he did that day. That is why I have previously questioned if he considered the representations and applied his mind,” she said. Daniels also argued that she did not get an opportunity to respond to the second set of charges. “That flies in the face of fairness. This is an unfair suspension,” she said.

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Her push for the power utility to settle her legal bills and to compensate her would present the cash-strapped Eskom with another financial setback. Eskom will settle recently reinstated executive Matshela Koko’s legal bills after it found him not guilty of various misconduct charges.

- BUSINESS REPORT