"We must have the Guptas [as witnesses]" said one MP at the start of an inquiry on Tuesday looking into alleged corruption and irregularities at Eskom.
Acting chairperson of the portfolio committee on public enterprises, Daphne Rantho, told MPs that one member of the Gupta family and Duduzane Zuma are "potential witnesses" who will be called if the committee finds it necessary to do so.
Rantho was responding to opposition members, who pointed out that Ajay Gupta and Duduzane Zuma's names were not on the mandatory list of those who were due to testify before the committee.
The Guptas have been fingered for various under-the-carpet deals involving senior officials at the parastatal, resulting in the family allegedly acquiring billions of rands.
ANC MP Zukile Luyenge was one of the members who highlighted the need for the Guptas to be summoned.
"They've [the Guptas] got something to do with Tegeta, the common denominators are there. We must have the Guptas. Let us make sure that we are not found wanting in terms of leading this process," Luyenge said.
The Democratic Alliance's David Maynier wanted Rantho's assurance that the Guptas and Zuma would be summoned.
"We understood the committee had agreed that Atul, Ajay and Duduzane would in fact appear as witnesses, you now say they will be called if necessary. You said Ajay and Duduzana would be potential witnesses and they would appear on the 17th of August. I would like your assurance that Ajay, Atul and Tony Gupta and Duduzane will be called as witnesses...They are crucial witness, they must be called, not invited, they must be summoned," Maynier said.
But Rantho was unwavering on the matter.
"As we go forward with the inquiry, people will have an interest to give evidence. Calling the Guptas and Zuma will be an additional work that we think is necessary for us to do... We have not started with the inquiry yet, we have potential witnesses in our inquiry list," Rantho said.
"Everyone on that document is a potential witness, we did not agree on the whole family [Guptas]. We agreed on one person and Duduzane. They will be part of the potential witnesses. The committee will take that decision."
In May, the committee took a decision to probe issues of governance and the reappointment of former Eskom boss, Brian Molefe. The inquiry was set to start on August 1, but the start of the official inquiry been delayed so "no stone is left unturned". The committee committee is currently hearing preliminary evidence from civil groups and other interested parties on alleged state capture.
The committee began today by hearing reports by Civil society groups OUTA, the South African Council of Churches and the State Capacity Research Group on their findings on state capture and Eskom.Suggest a correction