CAPE TOWN, November 10 – The Office of the Chief Justice on Friday rejected claims that a member of the Gupta family had sought to influence the deputy judge president in the high court in Pretoria in a court case related to former Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe.
“The statement attributed to that member of the Gupta family is misleading and unequivocally refuted by the Office of the Chief Justice,” spokesman for the South African judiciary Nathi Mncube said in a statement.
Mncube was responding to testimony by Suzanne Daniels, Eskom’s suspended head of legal, before a parliamentary inquiry into allegations of state capture at the power utility. Daniels claims Salim Essa, a Gupta-associate, had in late July taken her to a meeting at a townhouse in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, where Ajay Gupta, Duduzane Zuma and deputy public enterprises minister Ben Martins were present. She claimed Gupta had told her he would speak to someone at the deputy chief justice’s office to have the matter postponed to after December this year.
“The Deputy Judge President convened a case management meeting involving the legal representatives of all the parties and thereafter issued a Practice Directive, on 3 August 2017, prescribing the litigation timetable that was to be followed by the parties,” Mncube explained.
“The Practice Directive also allocated the hearing date of the matter to be 29 November – 1 December 2017.”
Officials in the deputy judge president’s office said they had never been approached to have the date changed, said Mncube.
“The Deputy Judge President has sent further correspondence to all the legal representatives of the parties reiterating that this Special Motion will proceed as scheduled on 29 November 2017 – 01 December 2017.”
Mncube said they were not aware of inappropriate conduct by court officials relating to the enrolments of cases, but have urged members of the public who have information to the contrary to approach the Office of the Chief Justice with such information.
Daniels’ testimony was also denied by Martins, who claimed the meeting with Gupta, Zuma and Essa never happened. Martins branded Daniels a “liar” and “an clueless ignoramus”.