Gupta whistleblower says she had 'no reason' to be suspicious of Ben Ngubane

The former head of legal and compliance at Eskom Suzanne Daniels has told the commission of inquiry into state capture that she "took it at face value" at the time that former Eskom board chair, Dr Ben Ngubane tasked her with drafting a resolution that the power utility's board would adopt using a draft prepared by someone from outside the state-owned company (SOC).

Chairperson of the commission Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo heard that Ngubane had forwarded Daniels an email from a "businessman" using an "info portal" email address, which is said to belong to Gupta business associate Salim Essa at the time.

The email dated 28 September 2015 contained an attachment of a resolution of the Transnet board that the SOC would suspend any dealings and contracts with the Mail & Guardian, City Press and the Sunday Times for publishing stories that were not favourable to it, Zondo heard.

"This didn't become a round-robin decision, this actually became a meeting," Daniels said, explaining that Ngubane then tasked her to use the documents from the email to prepare a document for the Eskom board.

Daniels said a special meeting was convened to deal with what was described at the time as a media "onslaught" on Eskom.

In the document and resolution, which were read at the commission and which contain gross grammatical errors, the three publications are accused of publishing stories which make unsubstantiated allegations of corruption and maladministration at the SOCs and for irresponsibly publishing gossip, sensationalism and disregarding facts, which was misleading the public.

Daniels told the commission that then minister of public enterprises Lynne Brown and Ngubane had had a conversation at the time about the media's treatment of the SOCs under the portfolio of the department of public enterprises.

Daniels said she did not recall copy-pasting from the document Ngubane had forwarded to prepare the one meant for the Eskom board, which contained similar errors.

"I'm a stickler for grammar, I would have corrected these mistakes, so I'm not sure if there were other versions," Daniels said.

Daniels told Zondo that she was of the understanding that the document was urging the Eskom board to take a stand against the three publications.

She added that at the time she did not know who the person was who was using the email address which Ngubane had forwarded to her and that at the time she had no reason to believe there was anything sinister in Ngubane's activities, in his conduct, and did not have any reason to be suspicious of him.

Daniels told the commission that Ngubane had told her that the person behind the email "info portal" was then director-general at public enterprises, Richard Seleke.

The commission continues, watch live courtesy of the SABC:

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