Tearful Molefe slams public protector’s Saxonwold cellphone evidence

Johannesburg - Eskom CEO Brian Molefe has lashed out at former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s use of cellphone records to suggest he had numerous meetings with the controversial Gupta family.

The public protector’s report on state capture was released on Wednesday, highlighting links between the Guptas and government officials.

As part of the report, cellphone evidence revealed that Molefe and Ajay Gupta, the eldest of three Gupta brothers, made 58 telephone calls to one another between August 2015 and March 2016.

The report further details phone calls between Molefe and Ronica Ragavan, a long-time Gupta associate who was recently appointed acting CEO of Oakbay Investments, the family's main holding company.

Moreover, cellphone tracking records obtained by the protector's investigators indicate that Molefe was at or near the Guptas' Saxonwold, Johannesburg compound 19 times between August 5 and November 17 2015.

But Molefe broke down in tears as he hit back at these details in the report.

"My cellphone reflects that I was in Saxonwold 14 times, close to the head of proverbial goats. My cellphone reflects I was in the area,” said Molefe.

"There's a shebeen there, two streets away from the Gupta(s). I will not admit or deny that I've gone to the shebeen.

"But there is a shebeen there,” a tearful Molefe added.

He then alleged that the public protector failed to get sufficient answers from him on the claims levelled against him.

"In my case the public protector has painted me with a corrupt brush,” he said.

Children 'will be taunted at school'

"During that period my children will be taunted at school... when there is no basis,” Molefe added.

Before making these comments, Molefe provided his version on what had happened regarding the sale of Glencore’s Optimum mine to Gupta-linked mining company Tegeta.

He accused Glencore of previously trying to sell coal to Eskom at a rate of R570 per tonne, when he said the price should have been below R200.

Molefe said that subsequent to the sale of the mine, Eskom has been paying the cheaper rate. He further added that had he accepted Glencore’s price, the public protector would have scrutinised the deal and labelled it corrupt.

Molefe hinted that his current troubles with the public protector’s report could stem from his refusal to accept Glencore’s price for coal.

"Having said that, I've had time to apply my mind to this matter [of the state capture report]. I think it's all because we refused to give Glencore R570,” he said.

“What pains me the most is that I never had the opportunity to explain to Thuli Madonsela what I have explained now,” he added.

Shortly after making these comments, an emotional Molefe headed backstage away from the media’s glare. He returned shortly afterwards to answer questions.

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