Sikonathi Mantshantsha Deputy editor: Financial Mail
Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

After more than three months, Eskom’s suspended head of legal and compliance, Suzanne Daniels, will have to wait another month to continue her battle to be reinstated.

On Thursday, at the request of Eskom’s legal representatives, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) adjourned hearings on her application to be reinstated. This was on the second day of her testimony in which she detailed what she said were Eskom’s "spurious and vexatious accusations" against her.

Daniels was initially suspended on October 6 2017. Among the allegations against her was that she had failed to respond timeously to a parliamentary question to the public enterprises minister. She was also accused of spending more than R66,000 on a two-day team-building excursion for her staff of 20 at the Kievits Kroon estate in Pretoria. The other charge was that she had spent R9,600 on advice from legal firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmyr.

Daniels’s suspension notice was served on her by Eskom’s acting CEO, Sean Maritz, on the day he was appointed to that position. This was two days after Daniels had personally served a letter of demand on global consultancy McKinsey and the Gupta-linked Trillian consultancy to recover R1.6bn that had been irregularly paid to them by Eskom.

The initial suspension was withdrawn by Eskom in December. But Daniels was issued with a new suspension notice on the same day.

"I have still not been charged with anything, nor appeared in a disciplinary hearing," Daniels told CCMA commissioner Prince Kekana. She said that Eskom had never suffered any losses on the R66,000 team-building exercise.

The utility informed her at the 11th hour that it would not pay for the excursion as it was not budgeted for.

"I then paid it out of my own pocket because I was concerned about the wellbeing of my team," she said under cross-examination by advocate Itayi Gwaunza, representing Eskom.

She said the team-building was needed because some staff members felt neglected.

Daniels told Kekana that the real reason for her suspension was to sabotage Eskom’s interests on her attempts to recover the R1.6bn illegally paid to McKinsey and Trillian. Before her suspension, Eskom had suspended at least four executives who were implicated in the irregular payment, including chief financial officer Anoj Singh and group capital executive Prish Govender. Govender was last week reinstated in his job, with Eskom saying he had been cleared of any wrongdoing.

McKinsey has offered to pay back the money after it emerged that Eskom did not have Treasury approval to enter into the contract. Eskom has also admitted that it did not have any contract with the politically connected Trillian.

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