Molefe Seeletsa

By Molefe Seeletsa

Digital Journalist

Eskom to appoint independent panel to investigate crime, corruption

ANC MP Bheki Hadebe questioned why the current board let De Ruyter go 'prematurely', without getting detailed information from him on the allegations he made.

Eskom says it will appoint independent investigators to probe the various allegations made by its former CEO André de Ruyter.

Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) on Wednesday grilled Eskom’s board and executives over allegations of corruption, theft and sabotage at the utility.

Eskom board chairperson Mpho Makwana told Scopa that De Ruyter left his position earlier than expected because he had brought the company into disrepute following his eNCA interview.

Makwana explained that the interview made it seem as if Eskom had not done anything to address some of the challenges plaguing the power utility.

“If one looks at issues of consequence management since the establishment of that state capture task team, a lot of disciplinary hearings had occurred inside Eskom,” he said.

In addition to the task team, Makwana said Eskom was in the process of procuring the services of an independent legal panel to revisit previous internal investigations to determine whether further action was required by the board.

ALSO READ: ‘Gordhan told De Ruyter to gather intelligence somehow,’ Scopa told

Eskom’s chief executive for transmission, Segomoco Scheepers, informed the committee that the power utility was not aware of the private intelligence investigation initiated by De Ruyter.

The company, Scheepers said, was not in possession of the private investigation’s report.

ANC MP Bheki Hadebe questioned why the current board let De Ruyter go “prematurely”, without getting detailed information from him on the allegations he made.

Makwana said he believed it would be speculative to assume that De Ruyter would have voluntarily handed over the intelligence report whether to Eskom’s board or Parliament.

Watch the meting below:

Makwana said the Eskom board acted in the best interests of the power utility in telling De Ruyter to leave earlier.

“I know that there is a broad view that wants to position Mr De Ruyter as a victim… to position him as a whistleblower,” he continued.

“I don’t see why and how would have let an individual who was clearly not acting in best interests of the organisation linger on in the corridors of that organisation purely because you wanted to test the allegations.

“We still have the wherewithal to get to the bottom of whatever allegations he may have said… old or new through this investigative process that we will be embarking on. The truth will come out.”

‘We are not a law enforcement agency’

Makwana revealed that the board never even received a comprehensive report about De Ruyter’s poisoning incident.

But Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Benedicta van Minnen said she believed the Eskom board was evading answering questions on what the utility was doing to investigate De Ruyter’s allegations besides the ongoing law enforcement investigations.

“There seems to be attempt to hide behind the blanket of we didn’t receive a report and to merely appoint independent investigators. What are they investigating? And what about the charges you admit you already know about including issues of the cabals, fuel theft and a senior politician involved with corruption at Eskom,” she asked.

READ MORE: De Ruyter spilled the beans on TV before reporting crime to police – Scopa told

Makwana said the issues were not an Eskom matter.

“Respectfully, there are not the questions that the board should be answering in terms of how progress is made with arrests… we are not a law enforcement agency.”

Scopa chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa, however, disagreed with Makwana’s answer.

“From where I’m seated it therefore does become an Eskom matter to probe. He was your man, he was your CEO. You had authority over him… sit him down and have him unpack those allegations,” Hlengwa said.

In his response, the Eskom board chair said: “The beauty of this is that you have us here today when you rightfully point out that Mr De Ruyter has appeared in this very [committee] not so long ago.

“If this [committee] could not even get him tell you who that politician is, why is it that Eskom is being put here to be Mr De Ruyter’s spokesperson? In legal processes, the one who alleges is the one who has the duty to report.”

‘Leaks and low trust’

Earlier, former Eskom interim board chairperson Malegapuru Makgoba told Scopa that the issues around the intelligence gathering exercise was regarded as “operational matters”.

“What the board was worried about, and frustrated about was the lack of action from Saps and the Hawks in the way cases were reported to them. We never said they did nothing, but it was just too slow and people were impatient,” he said.

“So the executive and the shareholder said there has to be a way to try and get on top of the matter, and that must be left to the executive, and the executive was headed by Andre.”

Makgoba said De Ruyter decided to carry out the investigation on his own, without involving his executives.

He added De Ruyter did not tell the executive because of “leaks and low trust”.

NOW READ: Hawks not investigating any politician over Eskom corruption

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