Scorpio

Eskom pension scam: Molefe must pay back the money

By Pauli Van Wyk 7 August 2019
Caption
Then Eskom CEO Brian Molefe breaks down while talking about his relationship with the Guptas during a media conference where Eskom released its interim financial results on November 03, 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / City Press / Lucky Nxumalo)

The Constitutional Court has dismissed former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe’s petition for leave to appeal a high court decision which ruled that he must pay back a part of the R30-million pension he received in 2016. The pension fund matter was heard by the high court after a Scorpio investigation in July 2017 highlighted Molefe’s lies about his retirement and showed how the public was defrauded and the taxman scammed.

The story of Brian Molefe’s R30-million pension bonanza is one of greed and mismanagement. It is also an example of how wrongdoing, at best, and possible criminality, at worst, spirals out of control when aided by lax controls and ill-equipped, and incompetent officials.

The matter came to finality when the Constitutional Court on 29 July declined to hear Molefe’s appeal. It is the end of the road for Molefe, which started with a Scorpio and Sunday Times investigation in 2017.

Two years ago the Sunday Times revealed that a pension of R30-million was to be paid to Molefe. Scorpio subsequently revealed how Molefe and officials from Eskom and its pension and provident fund schemed and defrauded the public in order to allow Molefe a pension calculated as if he had 10 years’ service at Eskom and worked there for 156 months. In reality, Molefe contributed 15 months’ pension payments to the pension fund, with the cash-strapped parastatal picking up the tab for the shortfall.

All sorts of mental gymnastics were employed to get to the point where Molefe scored a R30-million pension that he did not work for and did not earn. That while Molefe wasn’t eligible to be a member of the Eskom Pension and Provident Fund to start with.

As if that wasn’t enough, the taxman was scammed out of R1.3-million too.

At the time a total amount of R10.3-million in pension benefits was paid to Molefe – it is this amount that he now has to return.

What was most striking, perhaps, is how seamlessly Molefe lied about the timing of his retirement when documents discussed here prove a vastly different story to the one Molefe spun. Evidence showed that Molefe, aided by then Eskom board chair Dr Ben Ngubane, Eskom executive support manager Anton Minnaar and senior Eskom officials, were extremely economical with the truth, repeated the lies in affidavits to court, under oath and that all systems in the Eskom Pension Fund failed when they were needed most.

Solidarity Trade Union, the EFF and DA independently took the matter to court in November 2017, asking the court to decide on the pension debacle and declare Molefe’s reinstatement at Eskom invalid.

The High Court in Gauteng in a judgment dated January 2018 found Molefe was “never entitled to receive any pension benefits from Eskom pension fund and any payments made in lieu of such benefits were patently unlawful”. The court also said the “reinstatement of Mr Molefe as group chief executive officer at Eskom is at variance with the principle of legality and is invalid and falls to be set aside”.

The Constitutional Court’s decision is the end for Molefe. He now has to pay back the money. DM

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