Former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe insists he never actually resigned and was entitled to return to his post at the energy giant.
But counsel for Solidarity, Anton Katz, argued in the High Court in Pretoria it would make a mockery of the law and “would do violence to common sense and logic” to accept Molefe’s version.
A full bench of the court yesterday reserved judgment in an application by the Democratic Alliance and trade union Solidarity for an order to set aside decisions relating to Molefe’s early retirement payout and his brief reinstatement and to force him to pay back the more than R11 million he had already received.
Molefe announced in November last year he was stepping down to further good governance at Eskom in the light of allegations against him in the former public protector’s State of Capture report.
He now insists he and the Eskom board were under the mistaken belief that he was entitled to a R30 million early retirement payout and that his “resignation” had therefore been invalid.
Paul Kennedy, for the DA, argued that Molefe’s early retirement was clearly unlawful and should be set aside.
He said Molefe had told the nation he was going, but told noone – not even the minister – that he was trying behind the scenes to get this vast amount of money he was not entitled to.
It was inconceivable and disturbing that Molefe, an experienced civil servant who handled billions of rands in public money, would say nothing about his early retirement.
Kennedy and Katz both argued that Molefe had resigned and was not entitled to the massive golden handshake approved by the Eskom board 10 days after he announced he was stepping down, nor to his reinstatement a few months later.
Both questioned how Molefe could have been an ANC MP for three months if he had not resigned, but counsel for Molefe claimed he had been on “unpaid leave”, was correctly reinstated earlier this year and was unfairly dismissed shortly thereafter.
Molefe is presently fighting his dismissal in the Labour Court. Katz told the court Solidarity was no longer asking the court to order an investigation into Molefe’s conduct as the Hawks were currently investigating him.
He argued that Molefe’s entire project to gain “a pot of gold” at the end of the Eskom rainbow had been in bad faith and should be declared unlawful.