A power read: Koko on NPA’s failures, the Guptas and the bank closure ‘hate crime’
Former Eskom boss Matshela Koko sits down with 'The Citizen' to talk about some of his big controversies
Former Eskom CEO Matshela Koko. Picture: Gallo Images / Mail & Guardian / Madelene Cronjé
“Even if the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) were given 100 years to investigate me, they would come out with nothing.”
These were the words of former Eskom CEO Matshela Koko during a tell-all interview with The Citizen this week, after his R2.1-billion corruption case was struck off the court’s roll.
The matter relates to alleged dodgy contracts awarded to Swiss-based engineering company Asia Brown Boveri (ABB) for the construction of Eskom’s Kusile Power Plant.
The Middleburg Regional Court found the NPA’s request for additional time to investigate the matter amounted to an unreasonable delay.
In September prosecutors told the court that they needed time to conclude several witness statements, based overseas, and resource constraints had affected the case. The defence argued the matter should be struck off the roll, claiming the NPA had wasted time and arrested the accused prematurely.
‘Why was I arrested?’
Reacting to the court’s judgment, Koko questioned how the NPA was not ready for trial when it had been investigating him since 2017 and arrested him in August last year.
“The question arises, why was I arrested? Cabinet dismissed me in 2018, saying I was corrupt. You can’t dismiss someone five years ago on the basis that they are corrupt and yet they are still walking the streets. The NPA had to charge me based on the cabinet decision of 2018 to fire me, and they had to find something,” he said.
He claimed the evidence against him did not suggest a prima facie case against him, and believed he was being targeted because he held a “very powerful position at Eskom”.
“I am telling you now, give the NPA 100 years, they will not get to court and say this is how in the procurement strategy that led to the inclusion of ABB. They will not come and say because ABB was not at play and because of the hand of Mr Koko, here is a WhatsApp message, here is a telephone record, here is an email, records of meetings and this is how the puppet manipulated the puppet master to involve ABB,” he added.
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He further claimed the NPA had been set up to fail.
“They have over 200 witnesses and as soon as you start getting to 200 witnesses and 1.4 billion pages to prove your case, you are in trouble.”
‘The R600m we gave the Gupta companies was the best thing that happened to Eskom’
Koko was implicated in the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, with chair Chief Justice Raymond Zondo recommending he and former Eskom chief financial officer, Anoj Singh, face criminal charges for paving the way for the Gupta family to purchase the Optimum Coal Mine using Eskom money. Koko filed an application with the Joburg High Court challenging various findings of the commission.
He told The Citizen parts of the report were not worth the paper they were printed on, and stuck by the decisions he made as Eskom CEO.
“You would expect that the Eskom chapter of the state capture commission would become the most important one. No single arrest has been made in Eskom about state capture-related transactions. I can tell you that no one will be arrested.”
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“The Eskom chapter, I said, throw it in the bin. I have no sleepless nights or worries about the Eskom chapter of the Zondo report because I was there and it centres around me. The R600 million prepayment is a useless story. The R1.4 billion payment in December 2015 was useless.
“I have said the R600 million we gave to the Gupta companies was the best thing that happened to Eskom; whether you like the Guptas is irrelevant. We complied with the Eskom procedures, we acted lawfully, constitutionally and in the best interests of Eskom.”
‘A hate crime’
As reports of the alleged corruption swirled around him, banks began to close his accounts. A decision Koko described as a “hate crime” born from conspiracy.
“There are convicted criminals who still have bank accounts, I’m not convicted by the courts, I am supposed to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise.
“My wife and my daughters don’t have a bank account. Every single bank I went to open an account they declined, there must be something wrong with our law because a banking system must be a socio-economic right”.
While the NPA has expressed its confidence in bringing the case against Koko back to court, he believes the justice system should only be used to ensure “those who have broken the law will answer for their actions”.
Time will tell if he will be among them.