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Accused stack up in R2.2bn Kusile tender fraud case as No 18 appears in court

Accused stack up in R2.2bn Kusile tender fraud case as No 18 appears in court
Accused No 18 Lese'tsa Johannes Mutchinya appeared in the Middelburg Specialised Commercial Court on money laundering charges relating to the R2.2bn Eskom Kusile case. (Photo: Investigating Directorate )

Lese’tsa Johannes Mutchinya has been added as accused number 18 in a fraud case involving R2.2bn related to the construction of the Kusile Power Station. Mutchinya will join former acting Eskom CEO Matshela Koko in the dock.

Lese’tsa Johannes Mutchinya, 50, appeared briefly in the Mpumalanga Middelburg Magistrate’s Court, sitting as the Special Commercial Crimes Court, after his arrest hours before on Wednesday, 2 August 2023. He was released on R100,000 bail.

“He faces charges of money laundering for his alleged role and ostensibly laundered R3.1-million resulting from corrupt dealings through his companies. The companies allegedly used to launder money are still to be added in the next court appearance,” Investigating Directorate spokesperson Sindisiwe Seboka said.

Mutchinya is now accused number 18 on the draft charge sheet in the case that in October 2022 led to the arrest of former acting Eskom CEO Matshela Koko, his wife and two stepdaughters on corruption charges relating to an irregular contract worth R2.2-billion at the Kusile Power Station.

The other accused are:

  • Former SA Local Government Association chief executive Thabo Mokwena;
  • Eskom project director Frans Sithole;
  • Lawyer Johannes Coetzee;
  • Businessman Watson Seswai;
  • German national and former Swedish-Swiss multinational ABB employee Sunil Vip;
  • German national and former ABB employee Markus Bruegmann; and
  • Gopal Shamji Kambi, a UK national and Kusile contractor.

Several companies have also been charged.

Compromising Kusile’s ‘brain’

With a budget of R81-billion, the construction of Kusile was meant to be completed in 2014. So far only four of the six planned units have achieved commercial operation, with R152-billion already spent.

According to the draft charge sheet, construction at Kusile started in 2008 and will, once completed, be the fourth-largest coal-fired power station in the world.

It states that the case relates to a tender for control and instrumentation (C&I) system works at Kusile. C&I is one of the 45 main packages at Kusile and these works require the supply of the electronic “brain” of the power station.

The C&I system controls the switches, valves and other mechanical and electronic functioning of the plant. It’s fundamental to the control of all operating and interfacing parts of Kusile to ensure it functions properly and safely.

Prosecutors set out their case in a chronological sequence of events.

The contract was awarded to Alstom S&E Africa in November 2009. Dynamic Instruments was the subcontractor used by Alstom. However, Alstom was unable to service the contract and in 2013 it was rumoured that the contract would be cancelled.

ZAABB, the South African arm of Swedish-Swiss multinational ABB, made its move by allegedly trying to woo Koko.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Matshela Koko is the key: How a Swedish-Swiss energy company colluded with then acting Eskom CEO in billion-rand Kusile deal

In the summary of substantial facts, the State contends: “In 2013, ZAABB and its employees, specifically Bruegmann, came to learn of the plan by Eskom to replace Alstom and decided to approach Koko for a top down approach’.”

“The sole purpose for ZAABB and Bruegmann’s approach to Koko was to establish a corrupt relationship whereby ZAAB would secure the tender for the C&I works at Kusile.

“Koko allegedly introduced Mokwena to Bruegmann with the purpose of allegedly using Mokwena’s companies to funnel gratification back to him. In exchange for ZAABB awarding contracts to [Mokwena’s companies] Leago EPC (Pty) Ltd and Leago Consolidated (Pty) Ltd, Koko would abuse his position at Eskom to ensure that the C&I contract was awarded to ZAABB.”

All the accused are due back in court on 4 September 2023. DM

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Graeme de Villiers says:

    And yet, says the esteemed Minister of Candle-lit Affairs and Intermittent Darkness, ‘there is no corruption at Eskom’

  • Graham Nelson says:

    Let’s hope the NPA and investigating officers have their ducks in a row. I don’t have much hope that they will do though. I think the plan is to loose all of the big cases involving “big wigs.”

  • Bernhard Scheffler says:

    “… construction at Kusile started in 2008 and will, once completed, be the fourth-largest coal-fired power station in the world.”

    The list of the 10 largest power plants does not include any from South Africa. Indeed. even numbers 8 to 10 have a capacity of 5 GW, whereas Kusile delivers but 0.7 GW, and even when (and if) complete will only deliver around 4,2 GW rather than the contracted 4.8 GW.

  • Scott Gordon says:

    ” The contract was awarded to Alstom S&E Africa in November 2009. Dynamic Instruments was the subcontractor used by Alstom. However, Alstom was unable to service the contract and in 2013 it was rumoured that the contract would be cancelled.”
    4 years later ?
    10 years ago , wheels grind slow .
    Assume Alstom got paid for an uncomplete job . Get them to pay to fix it , with penalties .

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