State capture: An alleged sexual escapade, a 'tsosti' and board suspensions at Eskom

Mawande AmaShabalala Political journalist
Ben Ngubane, former chair of the Eskom board, testified at the state capture inquiry on Friday.
Ben Ngubane, former chair of the Eskom board, testified at the state capture inquiry on Friday.
Image: Freddy Mavunda

The state capture inquiry on Friday heard more evidence about the controversial suspension of Eskom executives in 2015 that led to the power utility receiving an investment rating downgrade.

Former Eskom board member Ben Ngubane claimed it was board chairman Zola Tsotsi who provided reasons for the suspensions of Eskom CEO Tshediso Matona, director of finance Tsholofelo Molefe, group capital head Dan Marokane and commercial and technology boss Matshela Koko.

Tsotsi testified earlier this week that the four were suspended at the behest of former SAA chair Dudu Myeni, who he claimed presented the idea in the presence of then president Jacob Zuma.

In a dramatic turn of events on Friday, Ngubane laid the blame squarely at the door of Tsotsi himself.

Ngubane claimed Tsotsi had convinced the Eskom board on March 9 2015 why the executives had to be suspended.

“The chairperson (Tsotsi) said there were charges to be dealt with concerning the executives.

“He said Mr Koko was caught on camera in a sexual escapade with a fellow employee at Eskom and that Mr Matona did not investigate this matter.

“The FD (financial director) Mr Molefe had met someone who was putting in a tender and had a discussion with the person during the evaluation of the tender,” Ngubane alleged.

“These are the reasons he wanted us to accept the suspensions.”

Ngubane said Tsotsi had said there was an existing report that confirmed the executives had been involved in misconduct.

Former Eskom secretary and senior manager Suzanne Daniels took the stand at the state capture inquiry on September 15 2020. She testified about how former company acting CEO Matshela Koko introduced her to the Gupta family's "foot soldier", businessman Salim Essa, in 2015. She alleged Essa introduced himself as the adviser to then-minister of public enterprises, Lynne Brown.

Koko told TimeLIVE on Friday he had “no reason to doubt Dr Ngubane's” evidence.

Regarding the sexual escapade claim made by Tsotsi against him, Koko said this was “fabricated”.

“It was rubbish. That is why he failed to produce the video. He was just being a tsotsi from Zola,” said Koko.

Ngubane told the inquiry that in a meeting on March 11 2015, Tsotsi admitted he had failed to produce the report implicating the executives in the misdemeanours he had alleged in the previous meeting, despite pressure from board members.  

“The board said: 'Give us the report'. He did not give us the report. The board took the decision to approach the shareholder (then public enterprises minister Lynne Brown). At that point the board had started to doubt Mr Tsotsi’s credibility.”

The board later that month forced Tsotsi to resign from the board.

Tsotsi's version at the inquiry was that Brown had instructed the board to remove him because the two of them did not get along.

Of the four executives suspended by the board without reason, three settled with Eskom for R6m each and chose to leave while Koko was reinstated.

TimesLIVE

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