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Senior Eskom employee among three arrested for R14m fraud at ailing power utility

Senior Eskom employee among three arrested for R14m fraud at ailing power utility
Adobe Stock | Thandeka Nkosi, a senior Eskom buyer, faces charges of fraud, theft and money laundering involving R14m. (Photo: Supplied) | A coal-fired power station, operated by Eskom in Mpumalanga. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Three people, including a senior Eskom buyer, have appeared in court on charges of defrauding Eskom out of R14m.

Thandeka Innocentia Nkosi, a senior buyer employed by Eskom at the Matla Power Station in Mpumalanga, and two other accused, 71-year-old Rabela Sarah Jones and her son Godfrey Jason Jones (46), are accused of defrauding the power utility of more than R14-million. A warrant of arrest has been issued for a fourth suspect, who is still at large.

Nkosi and the younger Jones were released on R100,000 bail each, while the 71-year-old was released on R30,000 bail after a hearing at the Hendrina Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

Nkosi was arrested on 17 March and charged with theft, fraud and money laundering involving R14-million.

Nkosi’s appearance comes a day after Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, the minister of electricity, told the media during a tour of the Kusile Power Station that the challenges the facility was facing were technical problems which had nothing to do with ‘so-called corruption’.

The electricity minister’s visit to Kusile Power Station was part of his tour of Eskom’s 14 power stations to understand the core issues, resolve the load shedding crisis and implement the President’s Energy Action Plan.

The charges against Nkosi and her co-accused stem from an intensive investigation conducted by Eskom forensic investigators into money that had purportedly been stolen from the power utility.

Mpumalanga Hawks spokesperson Captain Dineo Sekgotodi said the forensic investigators’ probe revealed fraud. The matter was referred to the Middelburg-based Hawks Specialised Commercial Crime Unit for further exploration.

“It was discovered that from March to April 2013, Nkosi, who was employed by Eskom at Matla Power Station as a senior buyer, allegedly colluded with his accomplices, a director of Angel Frost Investment. The accused… defrauded Eskom of R14,736,882,” Sekgotodi said.

Nkosi’s matter is one of 131 Eskom-related cases with the SA Police Service (SAPS), while the Hawks had 83 cases across six provinces, with 18 in court.

The Eskom cases before courts include:

  1. Ex-Eskom executive France Hlakudi is one of several people accused of fraud, corruption and money laundering in connection with an allegedly fraudulent R745-million contract involving the Kusile Power Station.
  2. In March 2022, the Asset Forfeiture Unit obtained a freezing order valued at R2.4-billion related to the Optimum Coal Mine and its assets, bought with the proceeds of crime by the Gupta-owned Tegeta company.
  3. In October 2022, former Eskom acting CEO Matshela Koko, his wife and two stepdaughters were among eight people arrested on corruption charges relating to a multimillion-rand irregular contract for building the Kusile Power Station. The charges stem from a 2015 contract awarded to the Swiss conglomerate Asea Brown Boveri (ABB) to install control and instrumentation systems at the power station.
  4. In November 2022, two security guards were arrested in connection with the theft of diesel worth R145,930 from an Eskom plant. The guards were employed by a security company contracted by Eskom and had been guarding the Port Rex gas turbine station in East London.
  5. Also in November  2022, Eskom reported multiple arrests linked to sabotage, coal theft and coal fraud at Camden Power Station.
  6. Around 30 November 2022, a truck driver and his supervisor from a transport company subcontracted to haul coal to Eskom were arrested at the Matla Power Station. The arrests took place after the truck driver was found to be in possession of subgrade coal destined for the facility.
  7. Angelo Cysman, a 40-year-old plant operator at the Ankerlig Power Station in Atlantis, is accused of stealing diesel worth R500,000. He was released on R50,000 bail by the Atlantis Magistrates’ Court in December last year. It is alleged he allowed a vehicle to collect stolen diesel from the site, declared the diesel tanker was empty and all the fuel offloaded, and then allowed the vehicle to leave with the stolen load.

Nkosi and her co-accused are back in the Hendrina Magistrates’ Court on 5 May. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Neil Parker says:

    Elsewhere in this online edition of DM, there’s an article entitled: “Mussolini dreaming – South Africa’s on a journey towards a full-blown dystopian state.”

    Apparently we have already got there. Despite listed cases 1 and 3 above, we have our “so-called” Minister of Electricity claiming that the challenges at Kusile power station were technical problems which had nothing to do with “so-called” corruption. Beggars belief.

  • Coenie Harley says:

    Rather Minister of the Trough if he’s already diverting attention away from the stealing frenzy…

  • Ou Soutie says:

    Any chance of getting any of this money back?

    • Anne Fischer says:

      Think a lot of it has gone on private maintenance and eyelashes, judging by the photograph

      • Jellybean Jellybean says:

        You stole my thunder. Extremely stylish, even sultry. Heavy emphasis on hair, eyelashes, wonder what the nails looked like. Probably frequented the Sandton’s manis and pedis with my money !!!!!!!

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    Good to know that De Ruyter was not dreaming this all up as suggested by the politically connected! I hope the new “electric minister” takes note,has a lightbulb moment and considers this exposure as positive not negative! Watt charges will arise is anyone’s guess! Lol!

  • Lawrence Sisitka says:

    There is really nothing left to say. We are really wasting our time, as there is very clearly no intention of halting the pillaging, but rather just denying it, and accusing people who raise the issue of being ‘childish’ and worse. But no dear DM, please keep on exposing the corruption and deceit, and who knows one day – 2024? – enough South Africans will recognise the truth to eject the ANC. But in favour of who? That’s a tricky one – sorry all my fellow commentators who are so strongly DA, but on its own it can’t do it. It does need to change and understand, appeal to and embrace a far wider and more representative constituency. The ridiculous fragmentation of the opposition is also manna to the ANC, as is the almost complete inability of any of the parties to engage in really constructive coalitions. Maybe our politicians can grow up? In 12 months…?

    • Angus Clarke says:

      Thanks Lawrence! That’s an extremely accurate observation. DA needs to get their Ducks in a Row and teach them how to fly in formation! Advertise their diversity, showing how we can all work together, across all artificial divides, then highlight their success stories, translating the info into all local languages, so that everyone can understand their goals and policies. Stop letting the Press frane

  • Colleen Dardagan says:

    Good to hear that someone is being held accountable – but that was under De Ruyter’s watch – I reckon this will be the last one.

    • Neil Parker says:

      The ANC is on a mission to “whitewash” all the corruption allegations and no doubt we’ll end up hearing about some or other dastardly plot by white monopoly capitalists to sabotage the State. With de Ruyter as the master villain. That’s already the line taken by Mr Trash Mantashe. I recommend everyone listen to the full 1 hour Annika Larsen interview with De Ruyter.

    • John Smythe says:

      Wasn’t under De Ruyter’s watch. He joined Eskom in 2018. This corruption started in 2013.

  • Richard Bryant says:

    Why the deathly silence about David Mabuza? When Ramaphosa appointed him as DP, the New York Times ran a full feature about his involvement in criminal networks in Mpumalanga particularly regarding the acquisition of land through false land claims.
    Ramaphosa ignored those serious allegations and maintained him as DP.
    In 2009, a large amount of cash was stolen from his farmhouse in Mpumalanga. R14m reportedly. (sounds familiar?). Ramaphosa didn’t seem to ask where he would get so much money and still appointed him DP.
    Fred Daniel has instituted a civil case against him for his involvement in an illegal land grab which deprived Daniel of his business. Mabuza has been employing every Stalingrad tool possible to prevent the case going forward (also sounds familiar). The case is pending. Based on evidence before the Court, his involvement looks very damning. Yet Ramaphosa maintained him as DP.
    Now we have the intelligence report that places Mabuza at the centre of a criminal network in Mpumalanga operating to sabotage Eskom. And Ramaphosa allows him to just resign from his position and wishes him well into his well deserved future.
    Either Ramaphosa knows about Mabuza’s involvement in criminal cartels and has done nothing about it. Or he doesn’t know anything. I’m not sure which is worse. Either way, Ramaphosa remains a serious problem when it comes to dealing with corruption in SA. My money is on he knows a lot and is covering it all up. Or he is also involved?

    • Tim Price says:

      Precisely – these cadres are as thick as the thieves that they are. Perhaps Ramashedding had a gents agreement with DD to turn a blind eye to his criminal enrichment operations or, DD has some serious dirt on Rama? Either way the whole situation is sickening.

      • Johann Olivier says:

        Shop steward to billionaire in the blink of an eye. Phala fail. Mates and appointments. And the band plays on and South Africans, sadly, cling desperately to the hope that by rearranging the deck chairs, the ship’s captain will make a difference.

      • Rory Short says:

        The ANC has corruption in it’s DNA so asking CR to do anything to clean it out is absolutely pointless. The only solution is for the electorate to abandon them in the elections in 2024.

      • Jane Crankshaw says:

        As “thick as thieves” describes the situation perfectly!

    • Libby De Villiers says:

      Mabuza has always only been a king-maker with very dirty business of his own. He served no purpose other than getting Cyril into the driver’s seat to secure protection against investigation into his criminal activities, of which there are many. His health related trips to China, and stepping down as, under the radar, vice-president (president of vice) without any fuss, again for health reasons (funny how these guys develop health problems when the ice gets thin.) and the endless rumours doing the rounds – al very suspect. One can only wonder what he has on Cyril. Must be quite hectic.

  • Hermann Funk says:

    I am sooooo disappointed. I truly though our new MoE was a genius, after he diagnosed the cause of load shedding so quickly. But with all these charlatans, they talk before they think, since they believe that this kind of statements would divert our attention from the mafia called ANC.

  • Andrew W says:

    Looking at the thread here, our Minister of Energy simply reinforces a truism. If the ANC says it’s not happening, then it’s definitely going on, most likely with their involvement. ANC speak is 180 degrees away from the actual facts, almost always.

  • Pamela Grayman says:

    These people should be charged with high treason.

  • David Forbes says:

    But the follow up on the arrests etc needs to include CONVICTIONS and sentences. Some of those arrested have been freed.

  • Barry Taylor says:

    The sad part for me is that the minister thinks the public believe him
    Secondly it is an insult to any normal persons intelligence for the minister to think he is believed

  • Holly Golightly says:

    Middle name Innocentia? You cannot make this stuff up.

  • Geoff Woodruff says:

    I’m afraid that this electricity genius has been put in place to make sure that no well connected heads roll. Minister of the vanishing evidence I think.

  • Gerrit Marais says:

    Amazing how the MoE could so deftly determine that corruption is not the problem. A week or so into the job and he’s been able to track every billion spent to come to this conclusion. He either understands corruption very well or he’s more clueless than the rest. Probably both.

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