Former Eskom CEO Matshela Koko admitted yesterday that during his tenure at the power utility, Eskom exposed internal data to third parties.
Koko was speaking during the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, where he responded to questions about his alleged correspondence with Salim Essa through the “[email protected]” email address to a contact known as “Businessman”.
This email address has been linked to irregular contracts and correspondence with the Gupta family, and former Eskom executive Suzanne Daniels previously said that “Businessman” was Salim Essa, an associate of the Gupta family who has been heavily implicated in state capture.
Koko sent a number of emails to this email address, a number of which have been connected to contracts investigated for state capture.
The former CEO acknowledged that he had sent these emails but said he had believed the email address and the “Businessman” moniker belonged to Dr Ben Ngubane, the chairperson of Eskom at the time.
He said he never questioned this belief, even though he claimed he had multiple meetings with both Daniels and Ngubane regarding the content of these emails.
“We have exposed Eskom information”
Following the inquiry into state capture and the evidence put forward by Eskom executives, however, Koko said he changed his mind.
He said now he realises that he was duped into providing internal information to “external third parties”.
Koko also implied that there was a strong link between Salim Essa and Suzanne Daniels, and accepted that Essa may have been the “Businessman” behind the address.
When asked by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo whether he still believed that Dr Ben Ngubane was the “Businessman” behind the email address, Koko said he no longer believed that.
“Knowing what I know, I don’t think so,” he said.
“I think we were sold a dummy. I think we were sold down the Mississippi.”
“It has become more and more obvious that it was an external party, and that’s what makes me flabbergasted – that we have exposed Eskom information to third parties,” he said.
Koko under fire
Koko was named as one of the instruments of corruption at Eskom by Suzanne Daniels during her Commission hearing last year.
Daniels said that Koko had communicated with Salim Essa and helped to orchestrate his own suspension as a smokescreen to obscure his corrupt activities.
She claimed that she attended a board meeting after Koko was suspended where she had said she did not support the return of Koko to Eskom.
After this, Daniels said Essa stopped her at a petrol station and offered her R800 million to change her mind and follow their orders.
She said she refused the bribe and left the petrol station, although she later met with the Gupta family regarding operations at Eskom.