Former Eskom exec Koko 'aggrieved' by Zondo commission 'gossip'

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Former Eskom executive Matshela Koko.
Former Eskom executive Matshela Koko.
Esa Alexander, Gallo Images, Sowetan
  • Former Eskom CEO Matshela Koko decried what he called "gossip", which was presented before the State Capture Commission as oral and written evidence.
  • He slammed previous evidence by former Eskom company secretary Suzanne Daniels and former Glencore CEO Clinton Ephron, dismissing their evidence as "lies".
  • Koko said he was dissatisfied with the platform the commission gave to witnesses to "mislead the inquiry" without consequence.

Former CEO of state-owned power utility Eskom, Matshela Koko, started off his appearance before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture on Tuesday by decrying what he called "gossip" - which was presented before the inquiry as oral and written evidence.

Koko appeared before the commission to give evidence related to operations at the now-troubled power utility. He slammed previous evidence by former Eskom company secretary Suzanne Daniels and former Glencore CEO Clinton Ephron, dismissing it as "lies".

The subject of Tuesday morning's hearing was also email correspondence between Koko, Daniels and others during his time at Eskom, particularly via email.

Last month, information technology expert Cecil Louwrens of Quintessence Forensics unpacked emails and suspension letters cited in an evidence bundle related to the power utility.

Louwrens said draft suspension letters that appear to be from Daniels' computer would be checked for corroboration with metadata in case they had been tampered with.

Louwrens referred to a suspension letter which was included in the Eskom bundle, saying that while the metadata of these letters of suspension showed that Daniels was the creator, this needed to be corroborated with other details in the metadata.

Ephron told the commission in 2019 that Eskom leadership, Koko, Gupta-linked businessman Salim Essa and former minister of mineral resources Mosebenzi Zwane pushed for the Optimum coal mine to be picked up by Gupta-linked Tegeta to acquire the mine.

'I am feeling aggrieved'

Before submitting his evidence, Koko told Zondo that he was dissatisfied with the platform the commission gave to witnesses to "mislead the inquiry" without consequence, while there was no recourse other than to present evidence on the same platform.

"This is my sixth time today. I must tell you for the very first time, I am feeling aggrieved. After the sixth occasion, I have not told my story. I submitted an affidavit to the commission and on the first day I was told it was taken as read. The way things are going, I do not even see if my counsel will be given an opportunity to cross-examine me," said Koko.

Koko also slammed former acting director general at the Department of Public Enterprises Richard Seleke, former public protector Thuli Madonsela – whose state capture report called for the Zondo Commission to be established in the first place – and the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA), which released a dossier in which they pinned a number of irregular Eskom deals on Koko.

"Mr Seleke's story of Optimum starts with these agreements and that is because of the gossip that is going around. It is in Thuli Madonsela's report, it is in the OUTA story and it is in the newspapers. The story starts before that. It starts when the president was chair of Optimum," Koko said.

Koko said Ephron never submitted evidence to the commission under oath, but that he and other witnesses were harassed into doing so and cooperated out of respect for the commission. Koko maintained that Ephron's evidence contained lies.

"It cannot be that witnesses come to mislead you and get away with murder. I come to you to lead you to the truth. I have come to demand that there has to be recourse for the witnesses that have come to deliberately mislead you," he said.

Koko said Daniels' evidence on his communications with her was unfortunate and asked Zondo to inquire about who else she was communicating with at the time, suggesting that she was providing other individuals with access to their correspondence.

"Ms Daniels ought to know who she was talking to when she emailed me and copied the Info Portal. She ought to know who she was blind copying that she did not want me to know. You asked for those emails.

"My gut feel tells me that you don't have them as yet. I've asked my legal team to bring them, because I made the proposition that your team will not give them to you because they are protecting Ms Daniels," he said.

Koko urged Zondo to punish witnesses who "mislead the commission" before responding to questions from evidence leader Advocate Pule Seleka. Zondo called for a brief break before the hearing continued.

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