Daniels tells of trumped up coal supply threats

Eskom board 'was hoodwinked on Optimum deal'

Former head of Legal and compliance at Eskom Suzanne Daniels.
Former head of Legal and compliance at Eskom Suzanne Daniels.
Image: Freddy Mavunda/Financial Mail

The Eskom board had less than 12 hours to approve a R1.7bn prepayment deal to purchase coal from the Optimum Mine.

The December 2015 proposal for the prepayment was made under the pretence that Eskom was faced with a coal supply crises. However, in reality the transaction was to be used to facilitate the purchase of Optimum by Gupta-owned Tegeta Exploration and Resources.

This was part of evidence given by former Eskom head of legal and compliance Suzanne Daniels at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture yesterday.

Daniels said she was involved in the preparation of documents to be sent to the members of the board at the instructions of former CFO Anoj Singh on December 8 2015.

“The board had to make a decision by the following day. Given the time of the year, there was a rush to get a decision,” said Daniels.

Evidence leader Adv Pule Seleka asked Daniels if Singh’s office had explained the urgency of the decision to which she said there was not.

“There was no explanation for the urgency other than that there was a threat to the coal supply. There were no documents to support this claim,” said Daniels.

Before giving her evidence yesterday, Daniels read a self-written statement to Deputy Chief Judge Raymond Zondo in which she detailed how she had suffered since making her first appearance at the commission in September. At the time Daniels blew the lid on how former Eskom CEO Matshela Koko introduced her to Gupta family associate Salim Essa, who told her about an impending suspension of managers at the power utility. 

“I’ve received both negative and positive feedback. Since making my disclosures about state capture at Eskom, I’ve been maligned and attacked as this disgruntled former employee and opportunist who is seeking some form of redemption. What’s particularly galling is that the parties who set out to crucify me and paint me as the villain are part of the group who are beneficiaries of the proceeds of state capture,” said Daniels.

She said in previous evidence she admitted to her mistakes.

“My admissions are marked against my name…There are people with greater power than me who benefited from their actions and these are the same people who use my name as a scapegoat for their wrongdoing. I have nothing. I’ve lost everything. I may not be able to work in my profession again. Financial and professional ruin is often the loss for a lot of whistleblowers and not to mention death threats. My daughter is now abroad because of the death threats we receive,” said Daniels.

More witnesses are expected to appear before the commission to give details about some of Eskom’s controversial contracts.

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