Former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe has insisted that he never denied visiting the residence of the Gupta family in Saxonwold, Johannesburg.
During a heated exchange with former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela on Newzroom Afrika on Tuesday night, Molefe confirmed that he had indeed visited the residence.
Madonsela initiated the exchange by raising the issue of cellphone triangulation that apparently placed Molefe near the Guptas’ residence multiple times.
‘May have been travelling through’
She claimed Molefe had a chance to explain this during the investigation but “chose not to.”
However, the ex-CEO said he had explained it in his submission to a parliamentary inquiry, insisting that he “may have been driving through” Saxonwold in a lot of the instances the cellphone towers picked up his signal.
This prompted Madonsela to ask him, “You were not being asked to speculate why your cellphone was there.
“You were asked a straight answer [sic] and you can still give South Africans and the world a straight answer: Did you or did you not visit the Gupta compound multiple of times, and if you did, what was the purpose?”
‘I never denied being to the Guptas’
Molefe replied, “Advocate Madonsela, I have never denied having been to the Guptas’ residence. I have been to the Guptas’ residence.”
When interviewer Thabo Mdluli pressed him further, he said, “I have been there, I know them and they were my friends. And there is nothing illegal about that.”
In her State of Capture report released in 2016, Madonsela said she had obtained the cellphone records “with a view to establishing relationships between individuals as well as potential conflicts of interest.”
In addition to triangulations placing Molefe in the Saxonwold area 19 times, she also established that Molefe had called Ajay Gupta 44 times and received 14 calls from him between 23 March, 2016 and 30 April, 2016.
Madonsela wrote in the report, “These links cannot be ignored as Mr Molefe did not declare his relationship with the Gupta family.”
She found that in April 2016, Eskom made hundreds of millions of rand in pre-payments to Gupta-owned Tegeta Resources & Energy when Molefe was CEO. He has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing.
At a media briefing shortly after Madonsela released her report, a tearful Molefe apparently sought to downplay suggestions of being at the Gupta residence in Saxonwold.
He said, “There’s a shebeen there, two streets away from the Gupta(s). I will not admit or deny that I’ve gone to the shebeen. But there is a shebeen there.”
To watch the heated exchange on YouTube, click here.