08/11/2017 14:51 SAST | Updated 08/11/2017 14:51 SAST

Eskom Suspensions In 2015 'A Little Strange', Inquiry Hears

Former finance director Tsholofelo Molefe confirms to parliamentary inquiry that Public Enterprises Minister Lynn Brown sat in on fateful board meeting.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters

The suspension of four top Eskom executives in early 2015 was a "little strange", MPs heard on Wednesday.

Testifying before the parliamentary inquiry into state capture, former Eskom finance director Tsholofelo Molefe, who was one of those suspended, said it was only long after the events that she "put the dots together".

At the time, she had wondered why a new board, which had only existed for two-and-a-half months, had considered the suspensions.

"Especially because in the first discussion, that board was very clear –– they wanted the minister [Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown] to come in and explain to them, because they did not agree [with the suspensions].

"Two days later, they agreed to suspend. So for me, that was strange," she said.

Brown was present at the second board meeting.

In December 2014, Brown made sweeping changes to the Eskom board, replacing its members with appointees who have been linked with the Gupta family.

In March 2015, then-Eskom board chair Zola Tsotsi suspended Molefe and three other senior executives.

Earlier on Wednesday, African Christian Democratic Party MP Steve Swart asked Molefe what she thought of the "purge" of board members, and what were her thoughts looking back.

"One questions what the motive was... But when you look at the chain of events, when you look back and listen to radio and newspaper articles, and you put the dots together, you realise there was something bigger than what we thought."

Experts believe the changes made by Brown after she took office led to a notable deterioration in the balance of skills, expertise and experience at the utility, which was grappling with major financial and operational problems at the time.