Senior Eskom employee among three arrested for R14m fraud at ailing power utility
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Also in November 2022, Eskom reported multiple arrests linked to sabotage, coal theft and coal fraud at Camden Power Station.
- 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.
- 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