Lawyer brawl sets back Koko hearing

Johannesburg - Suspended Eskom executive Matshela Koko’s disciplinary hearing will now only commence on November 23, after only two witnesses have testified so far. 

On Saturday Eskom terminated the services of its evidence leader Sebetja Matsaung, after an outburst on Friday in which he threatened Financial Mail deputy editor Sikonathi Mantshantsha.

The hearing convened on Monday with a new evidence leader, despite a statement from Eskom on Saturday indicating otherwise.

Eskom managed to appoint Advocate Cassim Moosa over the weekend, but Moosa had not yet familiarised himself with the case. He requested the necessary time to study the evidence against Koko, Moneyweb journalist Antoinette Slabbert said.

Slabbert was the only journalist at the hearing on Monday, after Eskom indicated it could not proceed until a new evidence leader had been appointed. But Eskom managed to secure Cassim's services, despite estimating that it could take up to three days to do so. 

Koko’s legal counsel objected to the postponement, citing the escalating legal costs, but hearing chair Mzungulu Mthombeni granted the request. 

In a statement released on Saturday, Eskom said Matsaung’s services were terminated following the altercation between Matsaung and Mantshantsha after the hearing was adjourned on Friday.

“Eskom condemns Matsaung’s behaviour in the strongest terms possible,” Eskom stated.

In the three days he led evidence, Matsaung called only two witnesses and had to scramble to find more witnesses to testify on several occasions.

Matsaung also told journalists before the altercation that he was struggling to find Eskom employees to testify.

On Wednesday, Koko pleaded not guilty to six charges Eskom had brought against him.

His disciplinary action relates to about R1bn in contracts awarded to Impulse International in 11 months while Koko’s stepdaughter Koketso Choma was a director at the firm. He was first placed on special leave in May and was later suspended as Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr probed allegations of conflict of interest.

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