Travel agents tell Zondo Inquiry that Salim Essa paid for Koko & Zwane’s trips

Travel Excellence agent Halima Allana, who also testified at the state capture commission of Tuesday, said Salim Essa booked for himself, Mozebenzi Zwane and Rajesh Gupta.

Travel Excellence agent Halima Allana appearing at the state capture inquiry on 18 May 2021. Picture: SABC/YouTube screengrab.

Travel agent Sameera Sooliman has 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 a R100,000 to settle the bill.

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

On Tuesday, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo asked Sooliman: “You confirm that it was Mr Essa who requested travel arrangements for Mr Koko and his family?”

Sooliman said: “Yes, the email will show that.”

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.

READ: Anoj Singh mostly made own travel arrangements, paid cash, Zondo Inquiry told

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

Koko’s version puzzles Sooliman: “Also chair, I need to ask if the payment did not come from Mr Koko, how did he pay? Can he prove how he paid the tickets to me?”

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

ESSA PAID FOR ZWANE

Another Travel Excellence agent Halima Allana has confirmed that former Minister Mosebenzi Zwane’s flight confirmation for Dubai, India and Switzerland was sent to Essa and that would’ve been done only if Essa had made the arrangements.

Allana, who also testified at the state capture commission of Tuesday, said Essa booked for himself, Zwane and Rajesh Gupta.

But Zwane told the state capture commission that it was a coincidence that he was on the same flights and on the same dates with the pair to all destinations.

The former minister said his official trip to India was to meet the CEO of the company Paras, that he believed had an agreement to manage the Vrede Dairy Farm when in fact the agreement was signed with Estina.

Zwane said he never met the CEO because he was not available to meet him.

But he believed the Free State Department of Agriculture paid for his travel because it was official.

Allana’s testimony disputes Zwane’s version.

“I did pick up an email that I received from Salim Essa where he requested travel arrangements for himself, Mr Rajesh Gupta and Mr Mosebenzi Zwane on the same dates.”

Allana said payments were made by EFT but she is yet to provide bank statements to show who paid.

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