LIVE FEED: State Capture Inquiry – January 12, 2021
By Baldwin Ndaba 50m ago
Share this article:
Johannesburg – The Zondo commission will hear Eskom-related evidence on Tuesday.
Eskom Acting Senior Manager: Fuel Resources Dr Ayanda Ntetha and former Group CEO Matshela Koko are expected to take the stand.
On Monday, a diamond industry business owner has accused parliamentarians of failing to investigate numerous complaints about the capture of the state-owned diamond producer, Alexkor, despite receiving written submissions which included representations directed at portfolio committees.
This was part of the shocking testimony of Gavin Craythorne of the Equitable Access Campaign during his testimony before the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
Craythorne told the commission that he became aware of the planned capture through a hitchhiker.
WATCH FEED HERE
“The hitchhiker asked whether I knew the identities of the new owners of Alexkor Mine. I said no. I was surprised about it. He gave a QuestCo document. It was authored by Trans Hex, De Beers, Alexkor board members and the Richtersveld Communal Property Association. In the document, they wanted to dispose of the Alexkor marine diamond assets and diversify it to coal,” Craythorne said
In his testimony, he then dragged former public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba into the state capture battlefield, saying since his appointment, he had started propagating the diversification of Alexkor Mine into the coal sector in Mpumalanga and Gauteng.
According to Craythorne, Gigaba and some Alexkor Mine bosses expressed mixed feelings about the future of Alexkor, saying the former minister claimed that Alexkor would retain its role in the diamond industry but would only venture into coal, but said mine bosses sang a different tune.
“The mine bosses, particularly Alexkor Mine board chairperson Mervyn Carstens, had on numerous occasions told Parliament that in the next five to 10 years there would not be any diamonds to mine at Alexkor. They’ve misled Parliament. Alexkor Mine had in the past 100 years of existence only mined 10% of the mining assets. This was due to the lack of technology. Since the evolution of technology, more diamonds could be mined. Alexkor Mine is still a gem of diamonds in the world. In fact, the entire West Coast, including Namibia,” Craythorne said.
He said the Namibian government and De Beers were still extracting worthy diamonds between the borders of South Africa and Namibia, saying it was proof to him that the West Coast still has large deposits of diamonds. According to him, the diversification of Alexkor was to allow Trans Hex and De Beers to take control of the affairs of Alexkor, which would have excluded the residents of Alexander Bay and the Richtersveld.
“I made reports to Parliament about it and they did nothing. I wrote letters to every portfolio committee in Parliament and personally delivered them. In (these) I notified them about the planned capture of Alexkor. Most of them ignore me.
“If Parliament had done its job, I would not be sitting here,” Craythorne said.
Earlier, the commission heard how Alexkor Mines bosses allegedly gave a Gupta-linked company — Scarlet Sky Investment – a tender to sell diamonds. According to evidence, Scarlet Sky did not have a licence to sell diamonds, but some of the board members approved the deal.
“This was despite the fact that Ganero had scored them zero for not having a track record in the diamond industry, but the Bid Adjudication Committee altered that and gave them a score rating of 5 over 10,” Craythorne said.
The commission was also shocked to hear that one of the independent directors, Duncan Karabe, also gave Scarlet Sky a rating of 100%, despite having lodged a formal complaint to the public protector about its appointment to conduct the sale of diamonds when implicated individuals are expected to take the stand.
Justice Raymond Zondo has ordered his investigators to obtain an affidavit from Karabe to explain the apparent irregularities.
Alexkor Mine-related testimonies are expected to resume next month.