Our Burning Planet


Accreditation of Karpowership gas explosion risk consultants suspended after Daily Maverick probe

Accreditation of Karpowership gas explosion risk consultants suspended after Daily Maverick probe
Major Hazard Risk (MHR) Consultants’ Terence Thackwray. (Photo: Facebook, image sharpened with AI)

The company that assessed Karpowership’s fire and gas explosion risks has voluntarily suspended itself from the SA National Accreditation System following questions over its staff’s qualifications.

The SA National Accreditation System (Sanas) has suspended the official accreditation of Major Hazard Risk (MHR) Consultants, the company that assessed the fire and gas explosion risks of several Turkish power ships due to be moored in the ports of Richards Bay, Saldanha and Coega.

The “voluntary suspension” came to light after Daily Maverick lodged a request for information with Sanas in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act more than three months ago.

The Sanas certificate for MHR, now suspended. (Image: Supplied)

We wanted to know more about the qualifications held by the Cape Town-based father-and-son risk assessment team, and the employment status of a third, elderly consultant who may (or may no longer) work for the company.

Although the company is charged with responsibility for impartially assessing the risks of explosions and fires at petrochemical industries and other potentially dangerous facilities, MHR has no functional webpage and the only staff listed in the CV documents section of the Karpowership application are Claude Clifford Thackwray (69) and his son, Terence Clifford Thackwray (45).

Despite the complex nature of their work in assessing risks to public safety, neither of the Thackwrays appears to have any tertiary academic qualifications in chemistry.

A degree of mystery

We raised the questions after Thackwray Jnr signed several risk assessment documents for the Karpowership environmental approval process over the past three years — variously claiming to have a BSc Environmental Management (Chemistry) degree or a “partially completed” degree.

Thackwray Jnr later signed a sworn statement as an “independent specialist” at a police station in October 2022, claiming to have completed this degree in 2019.


Karpowership fire and explosion risk map for Richards Bay image EIA report. (Image: Supplied)


Terence Thackwray claims his degree was completed in 2019 in a document submitted in October 2022. (Image: Supplied)


Terence Thackwray claims a partial degree completion in a statement dated February 2021. (Image: Supplied)


Terence Thackwray’s independent specialist declaration, signed in October 2022. (Image: Supplied)

Terence Thackwray signed a copy of a specialist declaration under oath on 12 October 2022. (Image: Supplied)

Curiously, however, Thackwray has steadfastly declined to produce a copy of the qualification when we requested proof.

Whether he has this degree is significant because Sanas accreditation guideline TR 54 requires that a technical manager involved in the risk assessment process for hazardous installations should have a university degree or higher national diploma in the field of engineering or chemistry, while a risk assessor requires a technical or scientific tertiary qualification “with at least two years of tertiary chemistry in the qualification”.

karpowership consultants

A Sanas table of academic and technical requirements. (Image: Supplied)

During the Karpowership environmental approval process, Thackwray Jnr has listed himself as a risk assessor and technical signatory and also as the project’s “independent specialist” for major hazard risk assessments.

So, when Thackwray Jnr and Karpowership’s independent environmental assessment practitioner (Hantie Plomp of Triplo4 Sustainable Solutions) failed to produce a copy of Thackwray Jnr’s alleged BSc degree at our request, we contacted Sanas for verification.

Affiliated to the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation, Sanas is South Africa’s sole accreditation body, responsible for promoting public health and safety and supporting economic growth by accrediting and monitoring health and mechanical laboratories. It also accredits a variety of inspection bodies that assess the safety of electrical installations or major hazardous risk facilities such as fuel or chemical storage facilities.

When we first presented our questions on 16 February, Sanas declined to answer any queries about the Thackwrays, citing the Protection of Personal Information Act.

However, Daily Maverick persisted with its questions and on 31 May (more than three months after our initial request), Sanas acting chief executive Tumelo Baleni, responded.

Baleni was not able to supply proof that Thackwray Jnr had successfully completed his BSc, stating instead that he “is registered for a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Management: Chemistry and is in possession of an IFE Level 4 Certificate in Fire Science, Operations, Safety and Management and had undergone ISO/IEC 170202:2012 Certified Auditor Training”.

In regard to Thackwray Snr, Sanas said he holds a National Higher Diploma in Civil Engineering, while Siegfried “Tienie” Steven held a BSc and BEng Civil Engineering degrees.

We wrote back to Sanas, requesting further clarity, and stating that we interpreted Baleni’s answer to mean that Thackwray Jnr had neither completed his BSc studies nor been awarded the relevant chemistry degree

Sanas responded: “From the documentary proof submitted, we can confirm that he was registered for 2023 towards the degree.”

But Sanas did not provide the date on which he initially enrolled for this degree or stipulate the maximum timeframe in which he is required to complete the degree in terms of Unisa rules.

According to Sanas, the decision to suspend MHR’s accreditation was made voluntarily (at the request of the Thackwrays) and was based on “loss of personnel”.

This appears to refer to the apparent resignation of Siegfried “Tienie” Steven, a registered professional engineer who was previously listed on the Sanas scope of accreditation as the company’s technical manager and joint technical signatory.

So we asked Sanas when it last verified whether Steven was a “permanent employee” of MHR Consultants, as required by Sanas’s accreditation criteria.

Sanas responded that Steven (aged 81) was officially removed from the list of MHR staff in August 2022, apparently because he had resigned/retired.

Oddly, Steven had a different story when Daily Maverick contacted him on June 12 to find out exactly when he retired/resigned —and why?

“I still work for them,” he insisted.

“They might have fired me…” he suggested, apparently light-heartedly. “But I’m still working for them as a consultant and sign their documents… But I’m not a full-time employee… When they [the Thackwrays] require me, I go in and sign some documents.”

We also asked Sanas to confirm how long MHR Consultants’ accreditation would be suspended for — and what requirements it would need to meet to regain accreditation.

According to Sanas, a decision on whether to reinstate MHR’s accreditation, would be taken “should they reapply to be accredited, [and] subject to confirming that they meet all the set requirements”.

So, considering that Sanas was not able to verify Thackwray Jnr’s alleged BSc chemistry degree, we made a final attempt to verify this on 12 June by phoning him and sending a list of questions via email.

But, once again, he declined to answer any questions.

“We are not interested in talking to you. Do not call me again… I do not want to speak to you,” he stated.

When we invited him to explain why he seemed so reluctant to provide proof of his alleged qualifications or explain why the company’s Sanas accreditation had been suspended, Thackwray Jnr asserted: “You are a dishonest person.”

We asked him why he thought this was the case. He did not oblige, declaring: “This call is being recorded!”  

We welcomed that assurance — but then Thackwray’s line went dead.

Questionable assessments

How could all this affect the Karpowership environmental impact assessment (EIA) approval process?

Karpowership and its consultants have made much of the fact that the Thackwrays’ company is accredited by both Sanas and the Department of Employment and Labour.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Saldanha harbour powerships plan ‘fatally flawed’, says Environmental Affairs

Although the Sanas accreditation was formally suspended on 12 May (after the final EIA reports were submitted to the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment), Sanas rules state that:

“An organisation shall, upon suspension or withdrawal of Sanas accreditation/compliance, immediately cease to issue certificates and any other materials displaying the Sanas accreditation/compliance symbol, the combined mark or containing references to Sanas accreditation/compliance.”

Sanas rules further provide that organisations that are placed in voluntary suspension “shall give an undertaking to adequately address the circumstances that caused the request for suspension within three months of the effective date of suspension”.

The company is also obliged to inform its affected clients of the suspension, “and the associated consequences without delay” and to provide Sanas with a list of valid certificates that have been issued under certification before suspension.

Read more in Daily Maverick: All three Karpowership ‘emergency plans’ back on the table for late approval

Now that its Sanas and Department of Labour approvals are both suspended, what status can be attached to the Thackwrays’ reports, which suggested: “The risks associated with the (Karpowership) Major Hazard Installation (applications) were found to be acceptable…”?

We put this question to Hantie Plomp, the Karpowership environmental consultant who previously assured us (in writing) that Thackwray Jnr has the requisite BSc degree.


Hantie Plomp claims that Terence Thackwray has completed BSc in statement dated January 2023. (Image: Supplied)

But in response to our questions this week, Plomp said: “Triplo4 provided responses on 05 January 2023, as received from MHR Consultants. Please reach out to MHR Consultants directly to clarify queries regarding MHR’s employee and company-specific information.”

However, a potentially more serious issue relates to Thackwray Jnr’s sworn undertaking that he is the holder of a BSc chemistry degree: The National Environmental Biodiversity Management Act makes it an offence to knowingly make false statements within the framework of the act.

Thackwray Jnr may now be required finally to break his silence about this degree of mystery. DM

To read all about Daily Maverick’s recent The Gathering: Earth Edition, click here.

Absa OBP

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Tony Reilly says:

    Looks fishy……all this dodging and ducking. Nine years to secure a three year degree ? Keep up the good work DM , expose the scoundrels.

    • Clare Rothwell says:

      Terence Thackwray was registered at Unisa from 2001 – 2019!

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      Agree! Well done DM! It is this brilliant investigative journalism – persistent in the face of the, often government supported, lying and the uselessness that is responsible for saving what is left of our country for all of us and all of our children.

      Thank you so much and keep it up!

  • Mark Brunner says:

    The blind leading the blind! If it wasn’t so serious it would be a joke! Where do they find these characters? Hantie Plomp? OMG! What do you expect? No, this rabbit hole is just too much!

  • André Pelser says:

    By hook or by crook……

  • Brian Cotter says:

    Busted. The question comes why did Karpowership use “shady” Consultants.

  • rosashmore says:

    Just anything to do with anything related to government is nothing but suspect. Thank goodness for DM and your fantastic journalists.

  • Jo Stielau says:

    The fact that his CV calls his qualifications section “Acedemic” might have been a hint, yes?

  • Renée Van der Merwe says:

    All those spelling errors should have raised a red flag….

  • Bernhard Scheffler says:


  • brigid.dubois says:

    More pressingly – where does that leave the Karpowership deal? Surely it is now compromised without valid certification of potential risk? Why, as citizens, are we tolerating this corrupt and disastrous attempt to put in place energy generation through the burning of fossil fuels for the next 20 years?

  • Dee Bee says:

    We have very good EIA companies in South Africa, with decades of experience and excellent (and qualified) people working in them. The only reason for hiring what appears to be a bogus operation is because a proper EIA company wouldn’t give it the thumbs up!

    On another note, what happened to Hantie Plomp’s disciplinary hearing for professional misconduct? Did it ever take place, or was it canned? DM reported on it on the 9th of May 2021…

  • Glyn Fogell says:

    And he can’t spell. 😕

  • Iam Fedup says:

    Oh yes, I can play “Chopsticks” on the piano with one finger, but I’m actually a partialy (sic) completed concert pianist. I have also, purely coincidentally studies the piano from 2001 until 2019, just like Mr, Thackeray, and society has conspired to prevent me from completing it due to the colour of my skin. Give me a break, for goodness sake!

  • Elmarie Dennis says:

    Thank you daily maverick for showing up the ROT, evil will NOT prevail. What is done in the dark will be heard in the light. What was whispered in an inner room will be shouted from the rooftops.
    i will continue to pray for our beautiful country

  • Alan Salmon says:

    Fantastic work by Daily Maverick – well done in exposing this charade. And incredibly important in terms of protecting our country and environment !

  • Ritchie Morris says:

    What happens to all the EIA’s that Mr Thackwray has done and for which approvals may have been issued by W-Cape Government? Are they scientifically valid? They were done by an unqualified person masquerading as an environmental scientist with false declarations. Perhaps the authorities should withdraw the EIA approvals and the applicants can then fight it out with MHR Consultants – Petrostruct Design to recover their fees.

  • Hugh Amoore says:

    The degree that this person claims/claimed to have earned or claims to be registered for, does not appear on UNISA’s list of qualifications it offers

  • Patrick Dowling says:

    Great piece of investigative journalism challenging the official tick box approach to approvals and getting some of the ticks erased. A blow for good governance.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    On whose behalf are the Thakwrays and Plomp working? They are merely window dressing hiding the real criminals who stand to gain by robbing the SA taxpayer ( again) with this ridiculous energy proposal!

  • Moraig Peden says:

    Thanks to Tony Carnie for digging deeper and unearthing this. Hopefully a nail in the Karpowership coffin!

  • Andrew Treu says:

    He supposedly took 18 years to complete his BSc. Something is amiss here – Unisa allows a maximum of 8 years to complete a 360 credit degree. If he did indeed complete his degree, it should be on record at the University; it should be relatively easy to check.

  • Evan Booyens says:

    18 years to get a 3 year degree, if acheived? I would not trust ANY input from this person as he must be a VERY bad engineer if at all…..

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