Deputy Public Enterprises Minister Ben Martins has accused an Eskom official of being a “liar” and “clueless ignoramus” after she said he had attended a meeting with Ajay Gupta and Duduzane Zuma earlier this year.
Martins could not say where he had been on 29 July‚ the day that suspended Eskom company secretary Suzanne Daniels testified she had met with Gupta and Zuma at a Melrose Arch townhouse‚ where they allegedly discussed former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe’s court case.
However‚ Martins did admit to meeting the Gupta brothers on at least three occasions.
At a press conference called to address Daniels’s testimony before the public enterprises committee’s inquiry into state capture‚ Martins said he had met Daniels on three or four occasions in work settings.
He said he had never attended a “phantom tea or coffee party“‚ as alleged by Daniels‚ and would consider taking legal action against her.
Questioned about whether he had met the Guptas‚ Martins said he had met them on three occasions – the first as Deputy Public Enterprises Minister in 2013 at an Indian food fair at their home in Saxonwold. He said he had attended in his personal capacity and the event had been open to “anyone and everyone“.
He said he had met “the middle Gupta brother‚ I forget his name” at a New Age breakfast while he was transport minister. He said they had only discussed the arrangements for the event.
Martins said during his time as transport minister‚ Tony Gupta had been in his home with Lucky Montana‚ former CEO of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa).
He said then-Prasa chairman and current Deputy Finance Minister Sfiso Buthelezi and Montana were concerned about rumours that the Guptas were trying to have them fired and replaced.
Martins said he had called Tony Gupta and Montana to his home to get to the bottom of the issue.