| Koko trying to ‘mislead’ Zondo inquiry on mystery Eskom emails, says Suzanne Daniels

Suzanne Daniels says she fears for her life. Suzanne Daniels says she fears for her life.

Alon Skuy, Gallo Images, Sunday Times

  • The commission has been trying to uncover the identity of the user of a private email used to share key Eskom information.
  • Several people have been linked to the email, including former board chair Ben Ngubane and Gupta business associate Salim Essa.
  • Ex company secretary Suzanne Daniels has denied being the user of the unknown email address.

Ex-Eskom company secretary Suzanne Daniels on Friday accused former executive Matshela Koko of “misleading” the commission of inquiry into state capture by claiming the person behind an email address that was privy to operational matters at the power utility was ex-board chair Ben Ngubane.

Uncovering the owner of the or ‘Businessman’ email address has been a key factor in the evidence relating to Eskom.

Electronic communication from the anonymous user contained critical information relating to Eskom’s business dealings with Gupta entities, and its contents were later adopted as board resolutions, including discussions around a R1.68 billion prepayment to Tegeta Exploration and Resources.

The Tegeta prepayment was later converted into a guarantee, in a move was aimed at minimising risk for Eskom, according to evidence heard by the commission.

Daniels said the idea of extending the guarantee came from outside of Eskom, prompting Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to ask her to further explain the outside influence.

“At the time it came from Matshela Koko and ‘Businessman’. Based on the evidence and other emails, it is more than likely that this Mr Businessman is Mr Salim Essa,” said Daniels.

According to evidence heard so far by the commission, the anonymous author of emails that have come under the spotlight seemed to have influence over the Eskom board and some executives, and sometimes shared confidential Eskom information.

Zondo asked Daniels to respond to a claim by Koko, where he said he would be shocked if the person who used the alias ‘Businessman’ was Salim Essa or anybody from outside the company. Koko had said Daniels told him that ‘Businessman’ was the chairperson of the board, Ngubane.

In her response Daniels, who was giving evidence via a video-link from the US, said she thought “Koko is trying to mislead the commission.”

“At no stage [did I tell] him that the infoportal or ‘Businessman’ address belongs to Dr Ngubane. I categorically deny that,” said Daniels.

The idea of converting the Tegeta prepayment into a guarantee also came from the ‘Businessman’ email address, as did the drafting of the agreement to the guarantee.

Koko, the erstwhile head of generation at Eskom, is said to have shared Eskom-related documents with the ‘Businessman’ address.

Essa, a Gupta business associate, has not given evidence before the commission, while Koko has made an appearance and responded to allegations levelled against him.

To demonstrate the commission’s attempt to uncover the unknown email user, evidence leader Advocate Pule Seleka drew the commission’s attention to an interview that Daniels did with Radio702, where Koko was asked who owned the ‘Businessman’ or address, and Koko had said, at that time, that it was Suzanne Daniels.

Daniels insisted that she was not the user behind the ‘Businessman’ email address.