Former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni on Wednesday failed to appear before the parliamentary inquiry into state capture, apologising for her no-show via text message.
"We were expecting her today. She is not coming," chair Zukiswa Rantho told MPs.
"We wrote her a letter, inviting her to this inquiry. She responded by writing SMSes, and kept on exchanging SMSes with the secretary of the committee."
Rantho said Myeni had said in the SMSes that her lawyer had "arrived yesterday", and was not familiar with the inquiry and its terms.
"She will therefore write to us when she has done her work with the lawyer. She apologised by SMS," Rantho said, noting that the committee had, in good time, sent Myeni a formal letter inviting her to attend the inquiry.
"Someone is playing a little game."
MPs serving on the inquiry were not impressed.
The African Christian Democratic Party's Steve Swart said it was yet another example of a witness being given due notice, but failing to pitch.
"I suggest we issue a subpoena," he said.
The Inkatha Freedom Party's Narend Singh suggested the committee write another letter to Myeni warning her to appear next week.
The DA's Natasha Mazzone was reluctant to cut the controversial Myeni that much slack, calling "for a summons to be issued immediately".
She suggested Myeni was employing delaying tactics.
"Someone is playing a little game," she said.
Former SAA Chair Dudu Myeni has just sent the #EskomInquiry chair a WhatsApp to say she can't testify today because her lawyer is not available. She was invited to testify several weeks ago. #DuduMyeni @eNCA— Annika Larsen (@AnnikaLarsen1) February 28, 2018
Rantho said the matter would be looked at by the inquiry's legal team.
In testimony before the inquiry late last year, former Eskom board chair Zola Tsotsi implicated Myeni in state capture at Eskom.
He told the inquiry at the time that Myeni called him to a meeting with then-president Jacob Zuma in March 2015 to discuss the suspension of three executives at the power utility.
"I was called by Dudu Myeni. She said that I should avail myself for an audience with the president, and declined to discuss any details over the phone.
"On or about March 7, 2015, I arrived at the Durban presidential residence and was met by Dudu Myeni, her son Thalente, and a certain Mr Nick Lennell, who was introduced to me as a lawyer."
Tsotsi said Myeni had told him that financial stress and poor technical performance warranted an inquiry at Eskom.
Further, she said that three executives – acting chief executive Tshediso Matona, group executive for group capital Dan Marokane, and group executive for commercial Matshela Koko – had to be suspended.
Tsotsi said he had warned that this was a recipe for "inducing instability" at Eskom, but Myeni had retorted that the decline in the utility's performance had made such an inquiry essential, and the suspensions would not create difficulties.
Zuma then entered the room.
"He requested to know what was up for discussion, whereupon Ms Myeni repeated what she had previously stated. The president then enquired if I knew who the executives are who were to be suspended, to which I responded that I would prefer that I consult the HR rules of the company to check if there is provision for recusals, rather than suspensions, to achieve the same objective."
Myeni had then said Lennell had helped her with a similar situation at SAA.
"Mr Lennell then proposed that he draft a resolution for me to present to the board setting out the rationale for the inquiry. The meeting [then] ended."