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Daniels grilled on Eskom board move to halt advertising with certain newspapers

The decision, in 2015, followed reports in the newspapers about fraudulent conduct, maladministration and corruption at state-owned entities, including Eskom, Transnet and Denel.

A screengrab of former head of legal and compliance at Eskom, Suzanne Daniels, appearing at the state capture inquiry on 15 September 2020. picture: SABC/YouTube

CAPE TOWN - The Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture is probing a decision by the Eskom board to stop advertising or any commercial relations with the Mail & Guardian, City Press and the Sunday Times.

The decision, in 2015, followed reports in the newspapers about fraudulent conduct, maladministration and corruption at state-owned entities, including Eskom, Transnet and Denel.

Former head of legal and compliance at Eskom, Suzanne Daniels, is being closely questioned about how the decision came to be taken.

Daniels said that she prepared a draft resolution for the board based on a similar resolution taken by Transnet’s board.

Daniels said that then-Eskom board chairperson Ben Ngubane forwarded an email to her in September 2015 from a Gupta linked account named Business Man. It complained about the newspapers’ reports and said that SOEs falling under the Public Enterprises Department should stop adspend with them and cease all commercial relations until they provided proof of their allegations.

Attached was a Transnet board resolution to this effect, which Daniels said she cut and pasted with some changes to prepare for a similar resolution to be taken by the Eskom board, as per Ngubane’s instructions.

"There was actually a special meeting to deal with... I think it was described as the 'media onslaught' at the time and that these specific publications were identified by the board as not favourbale to Eskom."

Daniels, who was a senior manager in Ngubane’s office at the time, said that she took Ngubane’s request at face value.

"I honestly had no reason to believe there was anything sinister in the activities of the chairman."

Daniels is also expected to testify about the suspension of a number of Eskom executives.

WATCH: Zondo hears evidence from ex-Eskom head of legal Suzanne Daniels

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