Martins being economical with the truth - Montana

Deputy Public Enterprises Minister Ben Martins has denied meeting the Guptas with suspended Eskom head of legal Suzanne Daniels.
Deputy Public Enterprises Minister Ben Martins has denied meeting the Guptas with suspended Eskom head of legal Suzanne Daniels.
Image: MARTIN RHODES

Former Prasa chief executive officer Lucky Montana has hit back at Deputy Minister Ben Martins accusing him of bending the truth, just hours after the latter branded Eskom's suspended legal advisor Suzanne Daniels a liar.

Daniels told Parliament on Wednesday that she had been invited to a coffee meeting by Gupta-linked Salim Essa, at which Ajay Gupta, Martins and Duduzane Zuma were present and discussed the court case of erstwhile Eskom chief executive officer Brian Molefe.

At a brief press conference yesterday, Martins called Daniels a "clueless ignoramus" and "liar." He said the "phantom" meeting had never taken place.

However, Martins admitted that he had met the Guptas on three separate occasions - at an Indian food fair at their home; before a New Age breakfast, and once at his home in Pretoria with Montana to discuss "a matter relevant to transport at that stage".

Martins said Montana and then chairman of the Prasa board, Sifiso Buthelezi, had written to him with concerns that they would lose their positions due to Gupta influence.

Montana, however, took to Twitter yesterday saying that he "did not know any Gupta until invited by Minister Martins to his ministerial home.

"It is rather unfortunate that I am said to have brought with me Rajesh Gupta, whom I have never met before. He came with Duduzane Zuma to the meeting, clearly at the invitation of my leader, comrade and friend, Ben Martins," Montana said.

"I am the only CEO in this country who rejected Guptas and their specific attempts to manipulate the R53-billion Prasa tender for commuter trains. It is for this reason that they wanted Buthelezi and I to be removed. The leadership failed to protect me and only acted when I threatened to resign and issue my letter to the public."

Attempts to contact Montana were unsuccessful.

Martins is a member of the central executive committee of the SACP which has taken a strong stance against state capture and the influence of the Guptas in the affairs of its alliance partner the ANC.

Alex Mashilo, spokesman of the SACP, said the party had received a report from Martins late on Wednesday after Daniels' allegations.

Mashilo said Martins had previously admitted to the meetings with the Guptas, but he said in no way was he influenced to act against established principles and procedures.

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