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Eskom inquiry: 'We were misled'

Venete Klein and Viroshini Naidoo were responsible for oversight of the state-owned enterprise when dubious contracts were approved to the benefit of the Gupta family.

A screengrab of former Eskom board member Venete Klein.

CAPE TOWN - Two former Eskom board members have told Members of Parliament (MPs) they were unaware of the parastatal’s decision to give a Gupta-owned mining company a R1.6 billion guarantee.

As board members, Venete Klein and Viroshini Naidoo were responsible for oversight of the state-owned enterprise when dubious contracts were approved to the benefit of the Gupta family.

But both women have told a parliamentary inquiry that they were misled about what was really going on at the parastatal during their tenures.

Throughout the inquiry, MPs have been trying to get to the bottom of why Eskom helped a Gupta-owned mining company to buy Optimum Coal.

The parastatal granted Tegeta Exploration a R1.6 billion guarantee and a R659 million pre-payment for future coal supplies bolstering the Gupta-owned company’s financial position.

But both Klein and Naidoo say they were not aware of the guarantee, suggesting they’d been misled.

Naidoo blames Eskom's management: “It’s horrifying to think that you come and ask a board member to sign off on a pre-purchase, then you go an issue a guarantee for the same amount of money. Or you ask a board member and tell them we need this coal and if you don’t do it, this is the circumstances, then you go do something totally opposite. So, you need to call these executives in.”

She told Parliament’s Public Enterprises Portfolio Committee that she was in the dark about certain dealings that only came to light much later.

WATCH: Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises - Corporate governance in Eskom

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)