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Eskom convictions: Former finance clerk gets 10 years, former Kriel finance manager gets 8, and more

Eskom convictions: Former finance clerk gets 10 years, former Kriel finance manager gets 8, and more
From left: Eskom’s Kriel coal-fired power station. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images | Sifiso Masina, former Kriel Power Station finance manager was sentenced to two years’ jail, wholly suspended for five years, on 25 April 2023. (Photo: Supplied) | SA banknotes. (Photo: Supplied)

Former Eskom finance clerk Nwabisa Ngxola was sentenced to 17 years in jail on Wednesday after being found guilty on dozens of charges ranging from fraud to money laundering. In December last year, she was one of three people convicted in the case. Last month, businessman Michael Chimanzi was sentenced to eight years in prison, wholly suspended for five years. Cinderella Moropane, a former Eskom finance clerk, will know her fate on 17 May.

Ex-Eskom employee Nwabisa Ngxola appeared in the Nelspruit Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday and was sentenced to an effective 10 years in prison. Her application for leave to appeal against her sentence and conviction was dismissed.

Two months ago, on 3 March, businessman Michael Chimanzi was sentenced to eight years in prison for defrauding Eskom of R2.6-million. His sentence was wholly suspended for five years. Although he appeared separately from his co-accused, Chimanzi was charged in the same matter alongside Ngxola and Cinderella Moropane, both of whom worked at Eskom as finance clerks.

Moropane will be sentenced in the Nelspruit Magistrates’ Court on 17 May. 

According to Mpumalanga National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesperson Monica Nyuswa, the trio acted with common purpose and submitted fraudulent invoices to Eskom.

“Ngxola’s password and username were used to capture certain payments to Mandla Lines CC, which is a legitimate company registered in the name of Chimanzi. They shared the proceeds amongst themselves and the accused were arrested after the police received a tip-off,” Nyuswa said.

Several witnesses testified during the trial, and evidence led by deputy director of public prosecutions Billy Moalusi proved that the invoices submitted to Eskom were fraudulent.

More Eskom fraud convictions

Meanwhile, in a separate matter, former Kriel Power Station finance manager Sifiso Jacob Masina was convicted on fraud and theft charges and sentenced in the Kriel Regional Court to eight years’ imprisonment on 25 April. The sentence was wholly suspended for five years.

Masina worked at Kriel Power Station from May 2011 to February 2012. An investigation by the Hawks found that Masina made payments to two companies, Mandlenkosi Logistics and Lusthala Supply and Transport, without providing any services to Eskom.

The Hawks probe discovered that Mandlenkosi Logistics belonged to Masina, while Lusthala Supply and Transport belonged to Masina’s mother. Both companies, according to Mpumalanga Hawks spokesperson Capt Dineo Sekgotodi, received payments from Eskom despite not providing any services. Eskom suffered a subsequent loss of R513,830.

Incidents of corruption at Eskom continue to emerge. 

On 23 March, Thandeka Innocentia Nkosi, a senior buyer employed at the Matla Power Station, and two co-accused, 71-year-old Rabela Sarah Jones and her son Godfrey Jason Jones (46), were charged with defrauding the power utility of more than R14-million.

Nkosi and Godfrey Jones were released on R100,000 bail each while Rabela Jones was released on R30,000 bail. Their case was postponed to 5 May.

Meanwhile, Nozipho Ntuli, a senior buyer at Eskom’s coal-fired Duvha Power Station, the second buyer arrested in Mpumalanga, was nabbed in connection with fraud involving R4.9-million.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Hawks tighten screws on buyers allegedly fleecing Eskom power stations

The matter involving Thandeka Nkosi is one of 131 Eskom-related cases registered with the SA Police Service, while the Hawks had 83 cases across six provinces, 18 of which are in court.

Some of Eskom’s cases before court 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 AFU obtained a freezing order involving R2.4-billion related to the Optimum coal mine and its assets.
  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 the Kusile 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.
  5. Also in November  2022, Eskom reported multiple arrests linked to sabotage, coal theft and coal fraud at Camden Power Station.
  6. In November 2022, a truck driver and his supervisor from a transport company subcontracted to haul coal to Eskom were arrested after the truck driver was found 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 in December last year. It is alleged he allowed a vehicle to collect stolen diesel from the site. DM

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  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    Very very good news.

    Sad bit is that next we’re going to be subjected to the ANC wittering on about what a wonderful job they are doing cleaning up corruption – that they both actively and passively enabled in the first place.

  • Nic Tsangarakis says:

    Excellent work in getting these convictions and lets secure many more!

    • Richard Baker says:

      Er-what convictions? Some gentle wrist slapping for the cases that were heard in court and reports of some mere arrests(which are old news anyway)but no hearings or convictions yet. Sends no good signals to us as tax payers or as examples to other miscreants. NPA a waste of fresh air!

      • Renn Moore says:

        No Richard. Be fair. One low level worker was sentenced to 17 years in prison. The businessman had his charge separated and received a suspended sentence? And the rest is, as you say, ah-hem, pending, yawn!

    • Gazeley Walker says:

      The more senior the corrupt individual status the lighter the sentence, but the lesser thieves, mainly clerical type employees get locked up for virtually the same crimes as the big boys. Please tell me how punitive an 8 year sentence, fully suspended, is in any way a deterrent to these low lifes. The effect their crimes has had on the country are bodering on treason and they MUST spend time in orange overalls. Maybe, the information they have on senior political individuals is really the reason for the gentle slap on their wrist. They can now spend their ill-gotten gains with freedom.

      • Vincent L says:

        My thinking exactly. It is treason and manslaughter. If only the prosecution and judges would realise this. They should consider the number of lives that have been lost due to no power at hospitals and traffic lights for example.

    • Matsobane Monama says:

      Good comment Nic, atleast something is happening, baby steps but with time, more determination and thorough investigations convictions will come. The Judiciary is holding, all we need now is POSITIVE energy.

  • TherealMalcolm x says:

    I’m not all that happy with the outcome. What exactly does a suspended sentence mean, that the person convicted isn’t actually going to jail? What happened to the stolen money, will it be paid back?
    Where’s the punishment in that? Sounds like nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

    • Mark O’Malley says:

      ANC are masters of camouflage. Offer a plea bargain of guilty in exchange for no jail time. Headline shows ANC is “ serious “ about tackling corruption and NPA stats show successful prosecutions.

  • Michael Walker says:

    Why are people given suspended sentences when they have enabled such great sums of money. Did they plea bargain, if not there is not much of a deterrent, a suspended sentence appears inadequate. We’re their assets ceased?

    • Gazeley Walker says:

      Can DM not investigate the reason for these ridiculous suspended sentences. Is it a case of the NPA buckling under pressure or just taking the “win” to chalk up on their office score board ? Why are they not challenging the sentences, or for that matter why is civil society so quiet on these “soft” convictions? Why is the justice system not being held to account for these “soft” punishments or being questioned on the disparity of sentences imposed on the “clerical” staff and these big hitters / influential enablers responsible for millions of lost Rands? Hopefully someone in DM will investigate and highlight who these high flying criminals are protecting for the sake of avoiding having to wear orange overalls.

    • JOHN TOWNSEND says:

      Correct me if I am wrong, but if a sentence is suspended for say 5 years, if you dont re-offend during this period the original sentence falls away. After 5 years you can go back to your illegal actions. PLEEZ tell me I am wrong

      • Chris Reed says:

        John, unfortunately you are not wrong. As they are no longer in the job, the chances of them being prosecuted for similar offences are slim, so yes, it will disappear after 5 years.

  • Bruce Q says:

    Mr. Brian Molefe’s name was conspicuous by its absence.
    It would be great if DM would do an article on what moneys have so far been recovered, and from whom.
    When will our so-called Law Makers classify these sorts of crimes against our most important asset as Treason? … And with it, the correct types of punishment?

  • Kerstin Dinklage says:

    Thanks for the report- but can you kindly clarify what „suspended for 5 years“ actually means? Do they remain free to travel and to spend the stolen money? Further it is important to understand what will happen now with the millions and billions of stolen money – are these transferred back to Escom and our country? Are the bank accounts of these suspects frozen and suspended too?

  • sakkielearmonth says:

    How can the ANC say there is no corruption in ESKOM. De Ruyter totally vindicated- the parliamentary hearing was a farce!!

  • Anne Swart says:

    Great stenography on what transpired in the courts. We need more meat added to the bones.

    Of those already convicted, one woman sentenced to 10 years and 2 men have their sentences “wholly suspended” Why suspended? What were the grounds for the suspension? From these 3 convictions, were any assets recovered?

    We’re used to investigative reporting from DM, not stenography.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    These people are chicken feed – a million here a million there….this is just window dressing. Where are the real criminal masterminds? Those that have stolen up to R500billion of taxpayers money? Where are the Guptas? Why is Zuma walking free? Not impressed….these people are merely workers who are being sentenced to look like there is a handle on dealing with corruption. I am not convinced that anything is really going to change.

  • Carlo Fourie says:

    I suppose it’s just easier to go for the small fry than the cartels – that’s where the real corruption lies.

  • Dragon Slayer says:

    Catching them and then giving them bail at a fraction of the amount they stole is probably the lowest ‘cost of business’ anyone can hope for. Especially when getting to trial takes years and success in court given the NPA track record is at best unlikely.

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