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Hawks tighten screws on buyers allegedly fleecing Eskom power stations

Hawks tighten screws on buyers allegedly fleecing Eskom power stations
The Duvha coal-fired power station near Witbank in Mpumalanga. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Nozipho Ntuli, a senior buyer at Eskom’s coal-fired Duvha Power Station, is the second buyer recently arrested in Mpumalanga, this time in connection with fraud involving R4.9-million. Two weeks ago, another buyer, Thandeka Innocentia Nkosi from the Matla Power Station in Mpumalanga, was arrested on charges of corruption, fraud and money laundering involving R14-million.

Nozipho Ntuli (35) appeared in the Witbank Magistrates’ Court on Friday, 31 March with co-accused George Edward Sekatane (43), Alfred Lebohang Sekatane (60) and Thulani Harris Mkhabela (40) on charges of corruption and fraud amounting to R4.9-million.

The four were arrested in Witbank as part of a joint investigation by the Secunda-based Hawks’ Serious Corruption and Serious Commercial Crime investigation teams.

It is alleged that between 2016 and 2019, Ntuli awarded contracts without following prescribed supply chain management processes, resulting in Eskom suffering a loss of R4.9-million.

Because he has other cases pending, George Sekatane was given R30,000 bail, while the other three accused were each granted R10,000 bail.

Explaining the State’s case against Ntuli and her co-accused, Mpumalanga Hawks spokesperson Captain Dineo Sekgotodi said Ntuli worked at the Duvha Power Station between 2016 and 2019. She allegedly awarded contracts without following prescribed supply chain management procedures.

“Further investigation revealed that the companies Phoenix and Itereleng Masheleng belonged to Ntuli’s boyfriend, George Sekatane, and Hustle Hard belonged to Thulani Harris Mkhabela. They were awarded dubious contracts.

“It is further alleged that when the contracts were awarded, George was in prison and Lebohang Sekatane was responsible for taking information and documents from Eskom to George in prison and vice versa. The loss suffered by Eskom is estimated at R4,911,980.”

Ntuli was the second Eskom buyer arrested in weeks. Two weeks ago, 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), were arrested on suspicion of defrauding the power utility of more than R14-million. They face charges of theft, fraud and money laundering.

Eskom woes ‘technical, nothing to do with corruption’

Both arrests came after minister of electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa told the media during a tour of the Kusile Power Station that the challenges faced by the facility were technical and had nothing to do with corruption.

According to amaBhungane, a sophisticated crime syndicate working with Eskom officials, police and trucking firms is stealing fuel at the Kriel Power Station in Mpumalanga. In March 2022, amaBhungane revealed how armed gangs were stealing fuel from buried pipelines owned by Transnet.

Former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter claimed in an interview that an orchestrated sabotage campaign was a key reason for increased levels of rolling blackouts.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Filthy seam of sabotage – how thieving cartels are plunging South Africa into darkness

Next to Transnet, Eskom is the second state-owned enterprise (SOE) to be granted an exemption by Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana from disclosing and reporting irregular and fruitless expenditure in its annual financial statements.

This has sparked outrage, with civic and business organisations strongly condemning the move to exempt the embattled SOE from the provisions of the Public Finance Management Act.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Critics react to Godongwana’s move to shield Eskom from declaring irregular spending

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde slammed the finance minister’s decision, saying that he had consulted with his legal staff to determine what action could be taken.

Major-General Nicholas Gerber, provincial leader of the Hawks in Mpumalanga, said he hoped the arrests of Ntuli and others would serve as a warning to would-be fraudsters.

“Eskom looting will not be tolerated. All efforts will be directed at bringing perpetrators to book. The Hawks in Mpumalanga are committed to bringing stability to the industry,” Gerber emphasised.

The case involving the four accused in the Duvha Power Station matter will resume in the Witbank Magistrates’ Court on 5 July. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Geoff Woodruff says:

    So just doing some simple arithmetic, Ntuli was 28 or 29 when she started on her crime spree. Very young for an such an important position. One wonders, what were her qualifications and who saw fit employ her? Eskoms problems run very deep it seems.

    • Alley Cat says:

      It is NOT about qualifications, it is about malleability and ability to steal to line the pockets of the cadres that have a vested interest in appointing the crooks to these positions.

  • Siobhan Hanvey says:

    Is it me or do these seem like the tip of a very large iceberg? Are the Hawks focusing on ‘easy wins’ so they have something on the score-board?

    • Gazeley Walker says:

      Or are they small time sacrifices to shield the real big fish. Hawks give the impression they are making progress, but in reality they are dancing around the real crooks – those with political connections.

      • Kobus Loubser says:

        😂Small time sacrifices…
        With allegations running into the Billion Rand market, allowing a few small time corrupters stealing a few million to be persecuted at a time, seems totally plausible.
        Heck at a cost of less than 1% I would sell anyone up the river if I could get away with 99% of the actual corruption!!!!!

  • Kanu Sukha says:

    If evidence of efforts to cover up collusion with ongoing ‘state capture’ within the ANC is required, the stance of Godongwana is a perfect example of ‘unaccountability’ and complete disregard of the protection of the interests of all South Africans. Sorry Zondo … sadly your ‘work’ has been in vain … it seems!

  • Johan Buys says:

    How hard can it be to have price norms for items? No, a R25,000 broom sounds wrong, did you perhaps mean 250 brooms? The technology exists to do realtime pricing reality checks, much more so in a place like Eskom that bristles with part numbers.

    Or even better : put the order in quarantine on a public portal for 72h so that anybody else can offer 2500 brooms for R21,000. It is taxpayer money, all taxpayers should have the opportunity to save us money while at same time earning a living.

    • Kobus Loubser says:

      Sorry but NO!!! All Saffers do not have the right as the Acts require that only companies or persons who meet regulatory approval (BBBEE) will be considered.
      Apart from this, if you can offer 2500 brooms at R 8.50 each ( even excluding VAT), I would like to order tomorrow!!!!!
      I totally agree that we should hold the purchasers accountable, but making basic accounting errors is why we are where we are!!!!

  • Quentin du Plooy says:

    I had to Larf. When Martha Stewart was arrested and imprisoned for insider trading, some dude on CNN said: that’s like arresting the girl shop lifting panty hose in the front of the store, when you know management are trucking BIG SCREEN TV’s out the back door..

  • sl0m0 za says:

    just more window dressing to look good for the coming elections – the real crooks are still in government

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