Brown's deputy says Eskom state capture inquiry is unfair

Johannesburg - Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises Ben Martins has hit out at revelations made at the parliamentary inquiry into state capture at Eskom, accusing the evidence leader in the process, advocate Nthuthuzela Vanara, of acting unfairly.

Martins said he was speaking out on behalf of the public enterprises ministry, including Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown.

Both Brown and Martins have been implicated in state capture in testimony at the hearings.

Last week, suspended Eskom head of legal and compliance Suzanne Daniels  told the committee that she had attended a meeting in Melrose Arch with Ajay Gupta, Gupta-lieutenant Salim Essa and Martins.

On Tuesday, Eskom board spokesperson Khulani Qoma implicated Brown directly in state capture, adding that she shielded controversial suspended Eskom executive Matshela Koko.

In the statement, Martins also submitted an alibi of where he was when the alleged meeting took place. He stated he had attended the funeral service of government spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa on the day.

Martins said Daniels’ testimony was untested and therefore unfair and illegal. He said Daniels as a lawyer should know about the repercussions of implicating other persons who are not able to respond to the allegations. Martins said Brown had written three letters to parliament, including to Vanara, around the procedural issues of the inquiry.

However, Daniels told Fin24 on Tuesday that she stands by her testimony.

Principle of fairness

In the statement, Martins called into question whether Vanara had upheld the standard and principles of fairness in as far as the conduct of the parliamentary inquiry was concerned. He said Vanara failed the parliamentary inquiry process in terms of fairness and validness.

“The Parliamentary inquiry has to be lawful, transparent, accountable, fair, regular and valid. These elementary requirements cannot be substituted for less.”

The inquiry could not permit others to be implicated without being heard including their version being put before the inquiry, he said.

“Such a version could be put or had to be put before the inquiry by the evidence leader.”

Martins emphasised that the Parliamentary inquiry has permitted testimony implicating various persons without having advised those persons that they were going to be implicated.”

"In our considered view, the current Parliamentary inquiry of the Portfolio Committee of Public Enterprises is an example of failure to uphold Promotion of Fair Administrative Justice and the Constitution."

He said there was a duty on the part of Vanara to advise persons about testimony which was going to implicate them.

“On this basis alone, the parliamentary inquiry has violated the human dignity of such persons,” he said. “No one can implicate his or herself. The right to be heard is a fundamental human right.”

Melrose Arch alibi

Martins said on the day he was implicated in the Melrose Arch meeting he was at the Mamoepa funeral  from 7:00 until approximately 13.15 at St Albans Cathedral in Pretoria.

"Whilst at the funeral the deputy minister took several photographs with other former Robben Island political prisoners and posted one of the photographs on his twitter handle. At approximately 13.30, the deputy minister departed from St Albans Cathedral and drove to St Georges Hotel in Irene, where the ANC NEC legkotla was to commence at 14:00.

"Upon arrival at St Georges Hotel Conference Centre the deputy minister registered as a participant and was issued with an accreditation card.

"The deputy minister attended the economic transformation commission, which was chaired by Enoch Godongwana. Ministers Rob Davies, Ebrahim Patel and Lindiwe Zulu, among others, made presentations at the commission.

"Throughout the duration of the commission, from approximately 2.30pm until 7.30pm he sat next to the chairperson of the ANC parliamentary caucus, Seiso Mohai.

"When the economic transformation commission deliberations ended for the day, he went to the St Georges Hotel Conference Centre dining hall, where he sat at a dining table with Paul Langa, Vusi Mkhize and other members of the ANC logistics and security unit."

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