Former Eskom manager, Ayanda Ntetha told the Zondo Commission of Inquiry on Tuesday that she had secret meetings with Tony Gupta at his Saxonwold home to discuss a coal supply contract between the power utility and Tegeta, a mining business owned by the politically connected family.
Nteta, who was a senior manager in fuel resourcing said she did not tell any of her superiors about the 2015 meetings, an omission she attributed to a lack of trust between her colleagues in the company at the time. Nteta, at the time, was finalising the details of a R3.7 billion contract with Tegeta, which has now been declared by a court to be invalid and set aside.
She met with Tony on two occasions, and was called to the first meeting under the guise of meeting with the CEO of Tegeta Exploration & Resources, Ravindra Nath, at the company's offices. On the second occasion, Tony summoned Nteta to the Gupta family home in Saxonwold.
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo who is heading the commission probing allegations of corruption in state-owned entities and government wanted to know if it was normal for Eskom employees to meet with a supplier at their home and whether she did not find it unusual to be summoned by a client.
She justified her decision to agree to the meeting as a chance for her to relay her dissatisfaction with the engagements that the Eskom team had had with the company's CEO about the some administrative aspects of the coal supplier agreements, including moving the contract to the Eskom's master supplier agreement template
Nath had not been co-operative and with the Eskom team, and Nteta testified that she wanted to use the meeting to express her frustration with Tony. However, she failed to inform her superiors at Eskom about the meeting, citing a lack trust among her colleagues
"I did not inform my immediate boss... because the environment at Eskom was not the one of great trust," she told the commission.
"I did not trust the people I worked with at Eskom."
Following Zondo's probing, Nteta conceded it was not in "best practice" to meet with a supplier.
Nteta was also responsible for the decision to grant Tegeta a three month extension of a temporary relief, which allowed the company to supply Eskom with coal of lesser quality than the requirements stipulated on its contract.
She said she faced charges over the decision, leading to her exit from the power generator in April 2018. In her evidence she defended her actions, saying it was within her delegation to grant the extension, adding that by charging her, Eskom did not have a fully appreciate that she was acting within her responsibilities.
The extension grated to Tegeta by Nteta was between August and October 2016 followed by the one granted by her predecessor between June 2016 and March 2017.
The Tegeta contract has been mired in numerous controversies and dominated evidence heard by the commission since its inception in 2018. The company is currently in business rescue.
In March 2019, the commission heard that Eskom's board tender committee in April 2016 resolved to extend a R659m prepayment to Tegeta before the mining company's own board signed off on approaching the power utility or a contract was in place.
The Special Investigations Unit in February 2020 secured a high court order setting aside the contract, as part of a process of recovering funds misappropriated from the power utility.