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Martins admits to meeting Guptas, denies attending meeting over Molefe

The power utility's suspended head of legal, Suzanne Daniels, alleges Ben Martins was present at a meeting with Ajay Gupta and Duduzane Zuma in Melrose Arch this year.

Deputy Public Enterprises Minister Ben Martins. Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN - Deputy Public Enterprises Minister Ben Martins has revealed he's met the controversial Gupta brothers at different times during his career in government and at least once in his personal capacity when he attended an "Indian fair" in Saxonwold.

But he has vehemently denied going to a meeting with Ajay Gupta and Duduzane Zuma in Melrose Arch this year where former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe's court case was discussed.

The power utility's suspended head of legal, Suzanne Daniels, made the revelations during a parliamentary inquiry on Wednesday.

Testifying under oath, Daniels has told Parliament's Public Enterprises' portfolio committee that Gupta wanted to make sure that Molefe's case was not heard before December.

Molefe's sizeable pension payout from Eskom is the subject of litigation.

Martins, who Daniels claims attended that meeting, has on Thursday called a press briefing to deny he was ever there.

“Ms Daniels is trained as a lawyer I find it difficult that a person of that stature can go into a meeting and remember almost nothing about the meeting except one question that was posed to her.”

Martins has interacted with the Guptas in the past, including once at a social event at their home, which he insists was open to the public.

He says he went to that get-together in his personal capacity.

He has also admitted to intervening when issues arose between Tony Gupta and former Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa CEO Lucky Montana.

At the time, Montana was concerned the Guptas were trying to have him and then board chairperson Sifiso Buthelezi replaced.

UNSURE OF WHEREABOUTS

Martins has denied he was at a meeting with Gupta in Melrose Arch on a Saturday in July, but he can't recall where he was that day.

Although Martins called a hastily arranged press briefing to deny he ever attended such a meeting, he told journalists that he would have to check his diary to know his whereabouts that day.

When Daniels unwittingly found herself in a meeting with Martins, Duduzane Zuma, and Gupta, she could hardly believe what she had walked into.

But Martins claims Daniels is lying.

“I’m hoping that I will also be given a chance to appear in front of the portfolio committee’s hearings. Then one will be able to answer questions posed there.”

Martins has met the Guptas on several occasions in the past. But he denies 29 July 2017 was one of them.

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