Former Eskom board member Venete Klein has implied that the cash-strapped power utility paying R18m to three executives, who were sent packing having done nothing wrong, was not a big deal.

Klein was giving evidence at the commission of inquiry into state capture on Thursday. Her evidence was centred on the controversial departure from the power utility of three top executives in 2015.

The executives, CEO Tshediso Matona, director of finance Tsholofelo Molefe and group capital head Dan Marokane,  were suspended in March 2015 by the then Zola Tsotsi-led board.

Tsotsi testified earlier this week that the idea had emanated from former SAA chair Dudu Myeni during a meeting at the Durban state house with president Jacob Zuma.

Matona, Molefe and Morakane were paid a combined sum of R18.2m to leave Eskom.

Asked on Thursday why the board opted for exit settlements instead of reinstating the executives, Klein said R18.2m was not a big deal — much to the surprise of commission chair deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo.

“A company [Eskom] with a turnover of R375m per annum and R30m daily operational costs, I do not know how we conclude that R18m is comparative,” said Klein.

“We were on a burning platform, we were sitting with no money and there was pandemonium.

“The board had deliberated long and hard. I was convinced by the chair [Tsotsi], he told us as the board that the presence of the executives could hamper the inquiry,” said Klein.

“I absolutely supported the inquiry. The chairperson Mr Tsotsi gave us reasons why he believed the suspensions should happen.”

Asked what her opinion was on the matter and if she put it across at the meeting that took the resolutions, Klein said: “When a board has made a decision, then you go out and execute on what the board had agreed. I had agreed that I support the suspensions.”

The suspension of the executives influenced Eskom’s investment rating downgrade.

Klein added that with hindsight, she acknowledged that “some of the decisions we made could have been better made”.


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