#StateCaptureInquiry hears testimony from former Optimum Coal Mine employee, As it happened

2019-03-13 16:00

The judicial commission of inquiry into state capture heard an application from Tom Moyane to cross-examine Pravin Gordhan and now continues with further testimony from more witnesses.

WATCH LIVE: State Capture Inquiry 

(Courtesy of SABC) 

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo

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Last Updated at 05:30
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Marsden says three days before the transaction could be completed, Oakbay's Nazeem Howa informed him that Oakbay had a shortfall of R600m and needed help. Maleka notes that Eskom then paid Oakbay a R600m pre-payment.

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Marsden says he was informed in early December by Ephron about a meeting held in Zurich, Switzerland regarding the sale of Optimum. Marsden says he did not know about the sale prior to this. 

Maleka says among those who flew to Zurich for the acquisition of Optimum, was former minister of mineral resources Mosebenzi Zwane.

13 Mar 15:34

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In December 2015, Koko wrote a letter to the Department of Mineral Resources complaining about OCM's about-turn and that Glencore was on board to assist the company.

Koko wrote that he was "perplexed" by this about-turn and OCM can't be seen to be operating in the nation's interests. However, in the letter addressed to the DG of Mineral Resources, Koko didn't mention that Tegeta wanted to acquire OCM.

13 Mar 15:20

13 Mar 15:20

Eskom left Optimum out in the cold, says former business rescue practitioner

A former business rescue practitioner at Optimum Coal Mine has accused Eskom of providing little cooperation as he tried to turn the operation around.

On Wednesday, Piers Marsden told the commission of inquiry into state capture, headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, that Eskom offered no reciprocation in his efforts to rescue the controversial mine. 

Marsden said he arrived at the mine in 2015 and established that it was held by Optimum Coal Holdings (OCH), among other companies.

"OCM (Optimum Coal Mine) had a contract to supply Eskom with coal from 2015 until 2018.

"OCM was experiencing significant loss of cash monthly. It had exhausted all its resources when I arrived. It relied on OCH to survive. It was in business rescue and was in financial distress," he said. 

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Marsden adds that Koko said OCM was running at a loss of R130m per month. He suggested that OCM be paired with Koornfontein coal mine. Koornfontein had a substantial allocation of coal to export. 

Marsden says it would've been lucrative for OCM buyers if Koornfontein mine was sold together with OCM. During the meeting, Howa asked Eskom officials if they could consider waiving the penalty against OCM. 

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Marsden says the proposal by Koko had commercial value.

13 Mar 14:31

Marsden talks about another meeting with Eskom, around the time that Koko was still chair of the power utility, and was present, as well as representatives from Oakbay.

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Marsden: "Eskom was not prepared to amend the OCM coal supply agreement, waive its rights to force the claim under the coal supply agreement."

13 Mar 14:08

Marsden currently on the three options Optimum Coal Mine (OCM) presented to Eskom regarding the issues it faced. Eskom was not willing to negotiate, says Marsden.

13 Mar 14:05

Back from the break, Maleka continues leading Marsden's evidence.

13 Mar 13:03

Zondo calls for the lunch adjournment. Back at 14:00.

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13 Mar 12:53

Marsden says they were focused on the negotiations with Eskom and did not consider the purchase offer from Tegeta, around September 2015.

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Marsden says the business rescue practitioners offered an amendment to the original CSA with Eskom. Coal supply was suspended at this point, and Maleka estimates that the coal supply was suspended for about 13 days. Previous evidence had shown that third-party suppliers were more expensive.

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Eskom was the sole client of OCM, says Marsden. OCM had a contract to supply Eskom with coal from 2015 until 2018 and he asked for assistance from Eskom.

13 Mar 12:28

Marsden talks about a meeting with Eskom, which was called after it became clear that any solution for the mine would require the input of Eskom. Marsden says Matshela Koko and Ayanda Nteta were present at the meeting.

13 Mar 12:25

Marsden explains that Optimum Coal Holdings (OCH) was a holding company for Optimum Coal Mine (OCM), among other companies. He added that OCM relied on OCH to survive.

13 Mar 12:20

Marsden mentions Eskom and the R2.1bn penalty Optimum Coal Mine was faced with, says the penalty had a significant effect.

13 Mar 12:16

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The next witness up, Piers Marsden, is a former business rescue practitioner and his testimony relates to Optimum coal mine and Eskom.

Marsden is sworn in.

13 Mar 11:59

And with that, Mgabadeli is excused from the commission. 

Zondo thanks her for her time, and tells her that the information she came to share could prove very helpful to the commission. 

Zondo calls for the next witness, whose evidence will be led by Advocate Vincent Maleka.

13 Mar 11:56

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Mgabadeli said she learnt of Mentor's allegations about former president Jacob Zuma, and the Gupta family, the same way the rest of the country did - when Mentor appeared before the commission, and on TV.

Mgabadeli is asked if she recalls ever having a discussion with Mentor about these events, given how close they once were, and Mgabadeli says she has no recollection of any conversation with Mentor on these matters. 

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The testimony of Mgabadeli - a former member of Parliament - is expected to deal with the prior testimony of former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor. 

Advocate Mahlape Sello will be leading evidence.

13 Mar 11:38

Back from the break, the first witness up is Ms Hlengiwe Mgabadeli, who is now sworn in. 

13 Mar 11:12

Zondo says he will reserve his decision in Moyane's application to cross-examine Gordhan. 

Proceedings adjourn for the morning break. Back at 11:30.

13 Mar 11:11

Pretorius says that should Zondo, in his discretion, allow the cross-examination, how much time should be afforded? Pretorius says the commission has "250 witnesses" to call up and the parties must accept that their expectations will be limited by this. Zondo says he will take the time into consideration.

13 Mar 11:06

Head of the commission's legal team, Advocate Paul Pretorius, now up with input on Moyane's application to cross-examine Gordhan.

13 Mar 11:03

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