Screengrab: SABC/YouTube
Screengrab: SABC/YouTube

Daniels tells inquiry she did as Ngubane asked on Gupta-linked email address recommendations

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Sep 15, 2020

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Johannesburg – Former Eskom company secretary Suzanne Daniels has testified at the Zondo commissionshe was following former Eskom board chairperson Ben Ngubane's instructions when she drafted a letter which recommended the company's board terminate its relationship with three media houses.

Daniels took the stand on Tuesday. Her questioning was focused on two aspects, the details leading to the suspension of four Eskom executives in 2015 and a letter of recommendation to Eskom's board that it should terminate its relationship with three media houses over their coverage of Eskom matters.

Daniels started as company secretary working with Ngubane in April 2015.

She was questioned about her knowledge on who a suspicious email address, titled "inforportal1 businessman", belonged to.

Through the commission's investigations, it has been determined the email account was linked to Gupta associate Salim Essa.

Over several months beginning in September 2015, Daniels, along with Ngubane, sent emails to the account.

Ngubane testified last week he was always under the impression that the email address belonged to then public enterprises' director-general Richard Seleke. He said he was told by Daniels.

Daniels denied this, saying she was told by Ngubane the email address belonged to Seleke.

She said she only found out later when she defended herself at Eskom's disciplinary hearing, that the email address belonged to Essa.

One of the emails that were received by Ngubane and forwarded to Daniels, from the ''businessman email address", was a Denel resolution which had recommended that SOEs terminate their relationships with the Mail&Guardian, City Press and the Sunday Times.

Daniels said Ngubane told her to write-up a recommendation, based on the letter, to Eskom's board.

Ngubane had at the time been in discussions with then public enterprises minister Lynne Brown about a media onslaught faced by SOEs.

Daniels said she understood the document was recommending that Eskom end its relationship with the media houses.

Eskom's board took the resolution's recommendations.

When asked if she had interrogated who the "infoportal1' email address belonged to, Daniels said she did not because she had no reason not to believe Ngubane.

"At the time I did not interrogate it as I would later. I took it at face value. At the time I was still a senior manager and I could not think there was anything sinister in the actions of the chairman (Ngubane). I did not have any reason to suspect anything."

The inquiry continues.

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