Ngubane explains Essa email involvement in Zola Tsotsi’s removal at Eskom

Advocate Pule Seleka asked ben Ngubane if he was communicating with Essa about Tsotsi’s removal through an email called ‘businessman’.

A screengrab of former Cabinet minister and former Free State housing MEC Mosebenzi Zwane Eskom board chairperson Ben Ngubane appearing at the state capture inquiry in Johannesburg on 13 October 2020. Picture: SABC/YouTube

JOHANNESBURG – Former Eskom board chair Ben Ngubane has conceded that a letter from former Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown that was the basis of a board decision to remove Zola Tsotsi came through an email address associated with Gupta ally Salim Essa.

But he denied that the email belonged to Essa. Instead, he said that he believed that it belonged to Richard Seleke.

Ngubane has testified before the state capture commission in the past that Essa was his former business partner, but he denies that he was appointed at Eskom because of him.

But several witnesses said that he introduced himself as an advisor to Brown.

Advocate Pule Seleka said: “The email address most probably belonged to Mr Salim Essa, at least on the evidence we have in so far as you say that ‘businessman’ who was communicating with you here was Mr Richard Seleke. On the evidence we have, it cannot be correct.”

Seleka asked Ngubane if he was communicating with Essa about Tsotsi’s removal through an email called “businessman” and Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo asked him about a letter from Brown that apparently came with the email.

“If indeed it was to be found that it was Mr Salim Essa, that would reflect that he expected you to go along with what was in the email, of course, you said there was a letter that came with the email from the minister and the board went along with those resolutions reflected in the email.”

Ngubane responded: “That resolution was accompanied by a letter. According to the company secretary from the minister, it formed the basis of the decision of the board.”

The commission said that the letter had proposed resolutions to be taken by the Eskom board as well as the boards of Transnet and Denel.

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