South Africa


Much of De Ruyter’s corruption claims not new and response to them is political posturing

Much of De Ruyter’s corruption claims not new and response to them is political posturing
Former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers. /Bloomberg via Getty Images)

André de Ruyter has left as Eskom CEO, but remains under pressure to tell police about the ‘feeding trough’ that is Eskom cartels and politicians, according to his ‘My Guest Tonight’ interview. It seems the political commentary rather than the corruption sparked the official fuss.

Charges have been laid and prosecutions are under way, alongside lifestyle audits and disciplinary proceedings for failing to declare conflicts of interest, if briefings to parliamentary committees are anything to go by. Much of what ex-Eskom CEO André de Ruyter said is in the public domain, and more. Here’s a (very) brief overview of just the past handful of months. 

On Tutuka, one of the six worst performing power plants, at between 15% to 17% electricity availability factor (EAF) 

That the station manager has to wear a bulletproof vest and needs armed guards emerged on 24 January before Parliament’s watchdog on public spending, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa). 

De Ruyter also told MPs how rocks and metal get added to the coal so there are breakages, followed by a maintenance call-out. 

“When we wanted to insist on controls [like] barcoding, the resistance is tough,” De Ruyter told MPs on 24 January. “The criminality is quite well organised and well embedded.” 

The Tutuka troubles are also in his replying papers to the United Democratic Movement-led court challenge against rotational power cuts. 

“Tutuka’s underperformance, of course, has various causes. But intolerable levels of criminality plaguing Tutuka are undoubtedly a significant contributor to its unacceptably low EAF. 

“Eskom is spending approximately R3.2-billion per annum on private security due to the sustained sabotage and criminality it and its personnel have experienced.” 

That number should also be in various Eskom annual reports and audited finances, which are before the parliamentary public accounts committee MPs. 

On procurement diddles 

The case of the Eskom procurement section recommending awarding a R430-million tender to the Germiston resident with a default judgment for missing bond repayments and a repossessed car, was first raised before Scopa. The tender was stopped. 

On criminal cases 

A total of 131 criminal Eskom-related cases are with the SA Police Service (SAPS), while the Hawks had 83 cases across six provinces, with 18 in court, it emerged at the 19 October 2022 meeting of Scopa. 

Meanwhile, Eskom’s own internal investigations stood at 270 active cases on 1 July 2022, with 239 cases under investigation both internally and externally, according to the Parliamentary Monitoring Group transcript. 

On the day of this committee meeting, Eskom released a statement that the Hawks had arrested a Tutuka Power Station employee on 17 October for removing 10 drums of hydraulic oil valued at more than R800,000 from storage facilities. 

Meanwhile, on 10 November a case of sabotage was opened at the Ermelo Police Station (CAS 107/11/2022), according to an Eskom statement, after a maintenance company worker at Camden Unit 4 removed an oil drain plug from the bearing. The oil drained, the bearing was damaged and the unit ultimately tripped. 

On 24 January, De Ruyter told MPs how, also at Camden, when Eskom security stopped a coal truck with poor quality coal, “the truck driver and his so-called manager first of all offered … a R50,000 bribe, which was declined”. After arrest and a confession, it appears that first the Ermelo Magistrates’ Court prosecutor refused to deal with the matter, and then the “Belfast prosecutor released the individual”. 

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In late November 2022, another dodgy coal delivery at another power station, Matla, led to arrests and charges — CAS 476/11/2022, according to the Eskom statement — and the impounding of cargo and a truck. 

In July 2022, Eskom welcomed the arrest of former ABB group employees Muhammed Mooidheen and Vernon Pillay and their spouses, in relation to corruption involving contracts worth R2.2-billion. 

“ABB in turn irregularly appointed Impulse International (Pty) Ltd (Impulse) as a sub-contractor on a R549.6-million portion of the work,” Eskom said in a statement at the time. 

Meanwhile, on trial since 2019 are former Eskom executive Abram Masango and ex-Eskom manager France Hlakudi, alongside others, in connection with corruption related to an air-cooled condenser tender awarded at Kusile Power Station.  

Two cases of sabotage were opened with the SAPS in May 2022 after a cable that was meant to bring Tutuka Unit 5 online was cut, while in another incident, the power station’s air pressure dropped. 

“This is the fifth incident of sabotage since March 2021, and all of these have been reported to the police,” said an Eskom statement on 19 May 2022. “Eskom has employed measures to improve security at all its power stations in general and Tutuka Power Station in particular, where additional security personnel and smart technology have been introduced.” 

(Note: smart technology includes cameras, but also drones that monitor power station perimeters, as MPs were told last year.) 

The Hawks, in various statements, have also announced arrests, from the 11 people at Emalahleni stealing aluminium from the Eskom power line in March 2022, to the July 2022 arrest of four people, including a Bredasdorp ex-Eskom Customer Network Centre employee and their former police officer husband, for stealing Eskom copper cables worth R306,065. 

On design faults

A nightmare at Kusile and Medupi; the new build power stations that are about a decade overdue and tens of billions over budget.  

In September 2015, the procurement ANC investment arm Chancellor House’s diddling emerged when Hitachi paid $19-million “to settle” charges under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for arrangements that “gave the front company and the ANC the ability to share in the profits from any power station contracts that Hitachi secured”, according to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Eskom’s rolling blackouts — 26 years of ANC meddling, manipulation and vested interests 

In October 2022, a flue at Kusile collapsed because, among other issues, boiler exhaust gas emissions were too hot. 

That came up before Scopa in January 2023. “The design defects are well understood and they are being addressed comprehensively. It took us 2.5 years and cost R165-million per unit … Still trying to recover that from the contractor,” De Ruyter told MPs. 

The flue design fault and the failure to manage ash deposits were “two issues of corruption and also skills that were not what they should have been”. 

These issues have taken out more than 2,000MW and will take eight to 12 months to fix. 

And on getting money back

ABB, a key contractor at Kusile, paid back R1.775-billion on 27 December 2021, the public enterprises committee was told on 7 February 2023 by Eskom board chairperson Mpho Makwana, with efforts also to recoup R600-million that Trillian still owed, according to transcripts of the Parliamentary Monitoring Group. 

Trillian was ordered by the courts in 2019 to repay Eskom R600-million, but that’s still a work in progress.  

A claim for R359-million was submitted to the Gupta-linked Tegeta coal supply company, now under business rescue. Court action over the full amount of over R700-million remains under way, Scopa was told. 

Civil action totalling R3.8-billion is under way against seven ex-Eskom directors and executives, including ex-CEO Brian Molefe, ex-CFO Anoj Singh and generations executive Matshela Koko. Damages are sought against ex-board members including Mark Vivian Pamensky and ex-minister Mosebenzi Zwane, according to an Eskom statement. 

The R30-million the Eskom Pension and Provident Fund unlawfully paid to its CEO Brian Molefe was finally recovered after four years in court in September 2022, the power utility said in a statement. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    Thank you, Marianne, for a useful summary of the criminal activities of the politically connected in just one SOE. One down, dozens to go. Through Zwane, Koko and Molefe, we can clearly link deployees of the ANC to this criminality. And yet still no censorship from the party until the start serving their sentences. Viva, ANC, Viva!

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    One wonders if all this money the courts are trying to claw back will actually happen. These vast amounts can still be used to bribe their way to freedom! Like the Guptas appear to have done!

  • Bruce Q says:

    Alas, the eye watering amounts of money being stolen from Eskom are a mere drop in the ocean compared to the incompressible amounts of monies lost from the South African economy lost from load shedding.
    This is nothing less than treason!
    Every act of sabotage, every lump of coal stolen, each and every corrupt action taken by government deployed personnel involved with Eskom is a clear act of treason against the people of South Africa.
    It is so damn obvious that the ANC government will not act against itself.
    We, the people must now act.
    We, the people must all vote.
    We, the people must remove this treasonous party that has brought this wonderful country and it’s beautiful people to its knees.
    Vote these bloodsucking vandals out!

  • L Dennis says:

    Charge them all with treason

  • Cunningham Ngcukana says:

    The most interesting thing was to read in News 24 online this morning that de Ruyter actually spoke to a Brigadier and Commissioner of Police about the matter not only to the dishonest Minister, Pravin Gordhan. The online newspaper further says that the matter is under investigation and one wonders what the clowns have been making statements about and others have been going around laying charges out of ignorance to get publicity in what has become a political theatre about the pain the country is experiencing. We must lay charges against those who are interfering with a police investigation including the legal plumber employed by the ANC.
    de Ruyter has to ignore the ANC cheque collectors in the adult day care centre who are thinking with their stomachs as the matter is under investigation according to News 24. A lot of people have an egg on their faces from the President who was informed through his advisors to Mbalula who comments on every fly the flies past his face. It includes the disgraceful Minister we need to consider having him arrested for gross dereliction of duty.

  • William Dryden says:

    Interesting details of what’s happening at Eskom. I had the pleasure of working at Hendrina Power station in 1980, seconded to a German Company to assist with boiler outages. ( I was Quality Manager for my existing company) I supervised 2 boiler outages, and the contractors were given Carte blanch in what work they carried out. Despite my survey on what needed to be done, this was ignored whilst I was on a weeks vacation. when I asked the contractor why he had ignored the work I had authorised, he told me that they always did that work. When this was reported to the Maintenance Manager, he accused us of stirring up trouble so that we could get more work from Eskom. No wonder boiler outages cost so much.

  • William Dryden says:

    David Mabusa resigns, makes one think why? also he still has a court case against him from Fred Danials regarding false land claims.

  • Neil Parker says:

    Thanks very much – exactly what what was needed when the ANC is doing its utmost best to throw up smoke screens by (for example) referring to “so-called corruption”. Perhaps our new Minister of Electricity would like to explain to us exactly what is “so called” about all the above.

    ““This is the fifth incident of sabotage since March 2021, and all of these have been reported to the police,” said an Eskom statement on 19 May 2022. “Eskom has employed measures to improve security at all its power stations in general and Tutuka Power Station in particular, where additional security personnel and smart technology have been introduced.”

    When Mr De Ruyter was doing his best to report such incidents of sabotage at Eskom power stations, Mr Mantashe was claiming he (De Ruyter) was “actively agitating for the overthrow of the state”. As Pravin Gordahn said at the time ” it is absolutely unfair and uncalled for to use that kind of language for somebody who tried their best to get Eskom out of the mess it is in.”

    If anyone was responsible to trying to sabotage the State through load shedding , it was Mantashe who delayed signing IPP agreements that could have brought more power online. The President could definitely do the country a favour by replacing him with De Ruyter in the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy.

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