Madonsela ‘not fooled’ by Molefe’s tearful explanation on Guptas

Eskom CEO Brian Molefe broke down in tears as he spoke about  his relationship with the Guptas and Saxonwold, following a damning public protector report into state capture.Eskom released its interim financial results to end-September 2016 under a cloud as its CEO Brian Molefe has been heavily implicated in the state capture report. Thuli Madonsela Picture: ALON SKUY/THE TIMES
Eskom CEO Brian Molefe broke down in tears as he spoke about his relationship with the Guptas and Saxonwold, following a damning public protector report into state capture
Picture: ALON SKUY/THE TIMES

Former public protector Thuli Madonsela has accused Eskom boss Brian Molefe of putting on a show to cast himself as a victim rather than answer hard questions about his cosy relationship with the Guptas and dishing out irregular deals to their companies.

Molefe slammed Madonsela yesterday for painting him as corrupt without providing evidence or giving him the opportunity to present his version of events.

He became emotional and appeared to break down in tears while trying to explain his movements in Saxonwold, the Johannesburg suburb where the Gupta family have a home.

But Madonsela said she was not fooled by Molefe’s crocodile tears.

“He was a master of diversion today,” she said of his emotional attack on her.

“By demonising the other he made himself look good by default. That was calculated. Even that dramatic exit when he looked emotional . . . It was a lovely movie moment. He put on a great show.”

Molefe was speaking at a presentation of Eskom’s financial results for the six months ending September 30.

Madonsela said he had had ample opportunity, including yesterday, to come clean on why Eskom had given a R660-million prepayment to a Gupta-owned start-up company and explain his visits to Saxonwold.

“We have evidence from a driver who recorded the [registration] numbers of cars coming in. He has a whole book of high-profile visitors, including Molefe,” she said.

Madonsela had sought evidence in vain from Eskom that the Gupta prepayment was standard policy.

“He painted me as bad, to be presented as a victim.”

Her report on state capture, released on Wednesday, highlighted Molefe’s close relationship with the high-profile Gupta family, whose company benefited from an irregular contract with Eskom.

It said Eskom had appeared to orchestrate a sweetheart deal and an irregular prepayment of R660-million for Tegeta, a mining firm owned by the Guptas and President Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane.

The deal allowed Tegeta to score a profit of R2-billion from mining giant Glencore’s sale of its Optimum Mine.

Madonsela’s report said while the deal was being negotiated phone records put Molefe “in the Saxonwold area” 19 times and he had called Ajay Gupta 44 times.

Atul Gupta admitted to Madonsela that Molefe was a very good friend who often visited his home.

Molefe made light of these findings, joking that he might have gone to a shebeen in Saxonwold. He said he would present evidence to a judicial inquiry and ask for a judicial review of her report.

“The results will come out in 18 or 24 months. In the meantime my children will be taunted at school.”

Molefe said he believed his trouble had begun because he refused to succumb to “blackmail” from Glencore.

Its boss, Ivan Glasenberg, had approached him at the height of the loadshedding crisis last year demanding a coal price increase for its Optimum Mine from R150 to R530 a ton, he alleged.

“He said if we stop supplying coal we will have more load-shedding. I said to Mr Glasenberg: ‘If you are putting a gun to my head you must shoot.’

“We did not agree to do it. That decision led to a domino effect of monumental proportions.”

Glencore rejected Molefe’s allegations yesterday, saying the company had “engaged in good faith with Eskom over a period of more than two years”.

“At no stage did Optimum Coal Mine raise the topic of load-shedding in its discussions with Eskom. The last offer made by OCM, while it was under Glencore’s control, was R300 a ton until 2018, not R530 a ton.

“Eskom rejected this offer and terminated negotiations with OCM,” Glencore spokesman Charles Watenphul said. – Additional reporting Siphe Macanda

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