Deputy Justice Judge Zondo heard evidence at Commission of Inquiry into the State Capture from Chose Choeu. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency(ANA)

Johannesburg - A former Eskom executive has denied claims that former Public Enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba had demanded Eskom support Gupta-linked The New Age with a multi-million rand sponsorship deal. 

Chose Choeu, Eskom's former division executive for corporate affairs, took to the stand on Wednesday and contradicted evidence heard at the commission on Tuesday. 

Paul Pretorius, Eskom's general manager for marketing, told the commission on Tuesday that he was forced into concluding a contract with TNA which committed the power utility into paying R1 million for each TNA breakfast session it sponsored. 

It has been revealed that many of these breakfasts were funded using government money. Various state-owned enterprises including Transnet and Eskom funded the events. TNA spent little to no money on sessions. The events were broadcast on SABC's Morning Live show. 

Pretorius said he had reservations about supporting TNA through sponsorship and advertising. He said the company was not registered with the ABC, which monitors media circulation, and its representatives could not explain how Eskom would benefit from the deal. 

He said he expressed his concerns to Cheou, but that Cheou insisted that TNA should be supported and the deal should be concluded at the request of former Eskom CEO Brian Dames and Gigaba. 

"He said 'Pieter, this is an instruction, this comes from the minister (Malusi Gigaba)'. He said Brian Dammas said you will do this. That was implied that it came from the top. Some of the minister's staff were included in emails about TNA,” Pretorius recalled.

Eskom entered into the contract with TNA in 2012. The company paid R7.1 million for the business breakfasts and R4 million for advertising in TNA. 

Faced with the evidence supplied by Pretorius, Cheou denied ever pressuring Pretorius to settle the deal with TNA. He said he only told staff that Dames had asked that TNA be supported. 

Evidence leader Kate Hofmeyr: "Mr Pretorius' affidavit he says ‘when I raised these concerns with Mr Cheou he said the instructions to conclude the contract with TNA had come directly from Mr Brian Dames then Eskom CEO and Public Enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba.’ Did you say that to him?"

Cheou: "Never. Nor has Mr Dames said that to me before."

Hofmeyr: "So Mr Pretorius has made this up?

Choeu: "Yes, most definitely". If Mr Pretorius had raised these concerns with me I would have gone back to Mr Dames. There was never any indication of unhappiness with the contract."

IOL