Essa ordered flights be arranged for Koko and paid for them, Zondo hears

This comes after former Eskom CEO Matshela Koko told the commission that he paid for all the flights and visas for him and his family and claimed that he asked former Eskom company secretary, Suzanne Daniels, to make the changes and apply for visas.

A screengrab of travel agent Sameera Sooliman appearing at the state capture inquiry on 18 May 2021. Picture: SABC/YouTube

JOHANNESBURG - A travel agent, Sameera Sooliman, told the state capture commission that not only did Salim Essa instruct her to arrange flights for former Eskom CEO Matshela Koko and his family to travel from Indonesia to Dubai and South Africa but he also paid R100,000 to settle the bill.

This comes after Koko told the commission that he paid for all the flights and visas for him and his family and claimed that he asked former Eskom company secretary, Suzanne Daniels, to make the changes and apply for visas but Daniels and Sooliman denied this.

"So here you confirm that it was Mr Essa who requested that bookings be made for Mr Koko and his family?" inquiry chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo asked.

"Yes, the email will confirm that," Sooliman said.

Koko has stuck to his story that he didn't know that an info portal email address belonged to Essa and when he communicated to it to make flight bookings and visa applications, he thought he was talking to Daniels.

But Sooliman said that all that was done by Essa through Travel Excellence and Essa paid.

Koko’s version puzzled Sooliman.

"Mr Chair, I need to ask you if the payment did not come from Mr Koko, how did he notify that he paid the tickets to me?"

Koko said that he paid his travel agent but Sooliman said that she never met or talked to Daniels.

Earlier, Sooliman said that her boss, Halima Allana, was approached by the Hawks and made an affidavit, with commission investigators making sure that she signed it.

"Mr Singh paid most of those in cash. He paid once by EFT and there was once when Mr Salim Essa settled his account," Zondo queried.

Sooliman said that she once received an EFT payment from Essa and a cash payment from Sahara Computers to pay for Anoj Singh’s flight tickets, after the disgraced former CFO denied this ever happened.

But she said that she never received the call notifying the agency that the cash would be delivered.

But she was made to sign an affidavit anyway.

"That statement was for Halima not Sameera," Sooliman said.

"So did you provide the investigators of the commission with any documents at all?" Zondo asked.

"No," Sooliman replied.

"So that was supposed to be something that Ms Allana would say and not you?" Zondo probed.

"Correct," Sooliman said.

Many witnesses have previously complained that investigators and evidence leaders did not take their statements or did not give them documents in time.

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