Thabiso Goba
2 minute read
13 Jul 2022
11:15

Two couples arrested for defrauding Eskom of R549 million

Thabiso Goba

According to the charge sheet, Mohammed and Vernon are former employees of automation technology company, Asea Brown Boveri Limited Group South Africa (ABBZA).

Two couples were arrested for accepting bribe money and allegedly defrauding Eskom of R549 million.

Mohammed Essop Mooidheen and his wife Raeesa Mooidheen, and Venon Pillay and his wife Aradhna Pillay are all charged on 18 counts of corruption, fraud and money laundering.

According to the charge sheet, Mohammed and Vernon are former employees of automation technology company, Asea Brown Boveri Limited Group South Africa (ABBZA).

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ABBZA was a contracting partner to state power utility, Eskom.

It is alleged that between December 2016 and March 2017 Mohammed and Vernon unduly used their influence to award contracts of up to R549,6 million to service providers Impulse International and Indiwize Construction.

“Accused 1 and 2 (Mohammed and Vernon) provided Impulse with an unfair advantage over other subcontractors as Impulse’s rates were inflated and (ABBZA) procurement policies were not followed in the appointment of impulse,” the charge sheet reads.

Pragasen Pather, who died in June last year, was the registered sole director of both companies.

During that time, while still in the employ of ABBZA, Mohammed cashed five cheques from the service providers totalling R2,8 million while Vernon got R8,8 million.

The sheet alleges Pillay used proceeds from that money to buy his wife a Toyota Landcruiser which was registered in her name.

Mohammed and his wife bought a Golf 7 (which they later sold with the money going to Raeesa) and a Mercedes Benz which was registered in the name of a Shamin Ramdev.

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Shamin Ramdev, according to the sheet, was Raeesa’s name up until her marriage to Mohammed in February 2000.

Mohammed and Raeesa were arrested in Randburg and appeared at the Randburg Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

They were granted bail of R50 000 and R30 000 each respectively.

Vernon and Aradhna were arrested in Durban and appeared at the Durban Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Tuesday.

They were granted bail of R20 000 each.

Sindisiwe Seboka, spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) Investigative Authority, said raids were also conducted on the premises of the accused persons with some assets being seized.

This is deemed as one of the seminal matters that the NPA has referred to, for the reason that Eskom was really at the core of state capture and features prominently in the Zondo Commission Report, where executives at the most senior levels of the SOEs (state owned enterprises) seemed to enable or facilitated for the looting of state funds.

The matter was adjourned to October 14 for further investigations.