Eskom’s contested private intelligence files clearly ‘cannot be ignored’, SIU chief tells Parliament

Eskom’s contested private intelligence files clearly ‘cannot be ignored’, SIU chief tells Parliament
Clockwise from left: Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya, head of the Hawks. (Photo: Gallo Images / OJ Koloti) | Former Eskom CEO André De Ruyter. (Photo: Gallo Images / Rapport / Deon Raath) | Advocate Andy Mothibi, head of the SIU. (Photo: Gallo Images / City Press / Tebogo Letsie) | George Fivaz, the founder and executive director of George Fivaz Forensic & Risk. (Photo: Supplied) | Graphic: Bogosi Motau

The heads of both the Special Investigating Unit and the Hawks cast new light on the private intelligence files commissioned by the now former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter – and the key law enforcement agencies are working on bringing criminals to book.

Useful, real and serious – that’s how the contested private intelligence files commissioned by former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter are now being seen by key law enforcement agencies.

“It’s clear that, between the Hawks and the SIU [Special Investigating Unit], they have found the intelligence reports very useful,” said George Fivaz, whose company conducted the intelligence-gathering operation on Eskom’s internal crime cartels.

“They have special teams investigating. So, I don’t think it’s about the rubbishing of the reports any more. That’s old news.”

He was speaking on Friday, 15 September, three days after Advocate Andy Mothibi, head of the SIU, and Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya, head of the Hawks, had appeared before Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa). Fivaz was simply rephrasing for Daily Maverick what had been placed on public record in the National Assembly.

On Tuesday, 12 September, about 42 minutes into proceedings, Mothibi had stated the following: “The [files] cannot be ignored, because [they] have information that can point to … areas that require investigation. That is clear.”

This adjective – “clear” – had been used by both Mothibi and Fivaz to describe the latest assessment of the files’ value. Of course, as the founder and executive director of George Fivaz Forensic & Risk (GFFR), this was the result that Fivaz had been waiting for since 26 April, when an explosive series of articles in News24 had dismissed the files as “outlandish conspiracy theories”.

On 1 June, in fact, as Daily Maverick readers may remember, a practising advocate, former police superintendent and author of key textbooks for the SA Police Service (SAPS), Cerita Joubert had published a legal opinion that reached the conclusion that Mothibi would arrive at more than three months later – but, at the time, her opinion had likewise been dismissed by News24. However, the jury was in – according to top law enforcement officials, the Fivaz intelligence files were useful, real and serious. And there was no doubt, based on his latest presentation to Scopa, that Mothibi and his team had read every word of the roughly 1,500 pages that the files contained. 

The 13 monthly intelligence reports, 348 agent reports and various diagrams, Mothibi informed Scopa, had been divided by the SIU into 54 broad themes.

Of those, he added, 22 themes had remained within the mandate of the SIU, and the remaining 32 themes had been handed over to the Hawks (formally the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, or DPCI).

For his part, in his own presentation to Scopa on 12 September, Lebeya of the Hawks offered a similar level of insight.

“Certain role players in the [agent reports] were implicated in multiple individual reports,” he stated. “So, one had to do analysis of all the reports to try to make sense of how they related to each other.”

Lebeya then moved on to the allegations of criminal activities contained in the files, beginning with the sabotage of critical Eskom infrastructure. 

“The emergency procurement processes may have been utilised to obtain contracts,” he noted with respect to one of the apparent motives, “and Eskom, obviously facing an emergency, may have had no choice but to pay the excessive fees charged to address these emergencies.”

Regarding the next item, procurement fraud and corruption, Lebeya suggested that the intelligence files provided crucial detail on how “most of the companies that were identified” did not follow the requisite Eskom procedures.

On the Hawks boss went, alighting soon on the “coal mafia”, which the files implicated in “coal theft” and “illegal coal yards” in and around certain power stations in Mpumalanga.

“There were also prominent and influential persons that were mentioned,” Lebeya added under this item, “and as the SIU has stated, there are names that have been [cited] in these reports. We have analysed them and seen [them], but what we need is evidence to link them to specific crimes.”

Here, of course, Lebeya was referring to the two senior ANC politicians who had famously been implicated in the Fivaz files – names that had been known to Daily Maverick since early December 2022, when we first took possession of the diagrams and dossiers.

And indeed, Mothibi had touched on this extremely sensitive subject too.

“There are names mentioned in the reports,” the SIU boss had informed Scopa about 15 minutes earlier, “but at this stage we would like the investigations to unfold before we undergo a legal risk.”

What both Mothibi and Lebeya were implicitly saying, then, was that the Fivaz files had furnished law enforcement with enough raw information and intelligence to warrant a full-scale search for proof of the politicians’ involvement.

But would that particular search ever begin in earnest?

The answer, by Daily Maverick’s reckoning, was not a simple “yes” or “no” – because, though it was indeed “clear” now that the files were being taken seriously, the suggestions of political interference were as strong as ever.

Also, we had our own documentary proof, which indicated not only that security agencies were being less than truthful in their statements on when, exactly, they had come into possession of the files, but also that this fudged timeline may have been hiding a more troubling truth: that the delay in acting on the Fivaz reports had allowed for the destruction of key evidence.

Subterfuge with receipts 

For the first 40 minutes of his presentation to Scopa on 12 September, Mothibi focused on what he termed the “unauthorised” nature of the Fivaz intelligence files, which he was at pains to distinguish from the “separate issue” of their usefulness.

The core allegation, he repeatedly stated, was that De Ruyter had acted unlawfully in commissioning the private investigation and was therefore guilty of “maladministration”.

By implication, he added, GFFR and Business Leadership South Africa, which had funded the intelligence-gathering operation, may have been guilty too.

Early on in his presentation, Mothibi framed the alleged legal breach in stark terms: “We are aware that the former GCEO [group CEO, De Ruyter] was under obligation to report those investigations, and he failed to do so.”

About 10 minutes later, reading from a PowerPoint slide titled “Questions Requiring Answers”, he arrived at the crux of his concerns.

“Why would Eskom appoint a private investigating company when the allegations could have been referred to the SIU, the DPCI or the State Security Agency for investigation?” he asked.

The answer, according to the SIU boss, was this: “Eskom did not appoint GFFR. ADR [André De Ruyter] was acting on his own.”

And then, to drive the point home, Mothibi continued: “We could not really find why the former GCEO would not have reported this to law enforcement agencies.”

By Daily Maverick’s reading of events, based on previous Scopa hearings and our own independent reporting, these allegations were filled with assumptions that were incorrectly presented as facts.

To begin with the allegation that De Ruyter “was acting on his own”, there had already been more than enough parliamentary testimony to cast Mothibi’s version in a tenuous light.

For starters, on 9 May, when Mothibi and Lebeya had first appeared before Scopa on the matter – alongside SAPS head General Fannie Masemola – it was apparent to almost everyone watching that the security establishment had scored an own goal.

Soon after Mothibi and Lebeya had emphatically insisted that they had only recently learnt of the files’ existence, it emerged that a certain Brigadier Jap Burger of the SAPS may have been in possession of the files since at least July 2022.  

At Daily Maverick, this was our cue to approach De Ruyter for comment. He informed us, while the 9 May proceedings were still in session, that not only had Masemola himself designated Burger as the investigative lead, but that the Hawks in Mpumalanga had also been in possession of the files for a long time.

Significantly, De Ruyter also told us: “I reported the matter to the then interim chair of Eskom Holdings SOC, Professor Malega­puru Makgoba. I [later] informed the new board of Eskom of the intelligence operation at a meeting held at the Eskom Academy of Learning in November 2022.”

The next day, 10 May, Scopa quoted from our interview with De Ruyter to establish the truth. And there at Scopa, Makgoba, from the very beginning of his testimony, corroborated the version of the former CEO. 

“If SAPS and the Hawks had done their work effectively and efficiently,” Makgoba began, “we wouldn’t be meeting here as a committee today.”

Then, in the following point of his opening remarks, he took it even further: “The [action] that Mr De Ruyter [took] was operational … because Eskom at the time was besieged with sabotage and corruption, and we were not getting any mileage from the law enforcement agencies.” 

As to whether De Ruyter had informed Makgoba of the private intelligence-gathering operation, the former interim chair was unequivocal.

“Indeed, Mr De Ruyter did inform me,” he stated. “I can also confirm that … on 5 July 2022, Mr De Ruyter did inform [National Security Adviser] Sydney Mufamadi and [Public Enterprises Minister] Pravin Gordhan.”

As it turned out, this date – 5 July 2022 – was the one that De Ruyter had provided us for the meeting with Mufamadi and Gordhan, which we had duly included in our reporting.

But still, when it came time for Gordhan to appear before Scopa, on 17 May 2023, the Cabinet minister outright dismissed almost everything that De Ruyter had claimed – instead referring to the “rogue nature” of the intelligence files and the former CEO’s “messiah complex”.

So, what were the citizens of South Africa to believe?

Minus hard evidence, of course, every­thing that Scopa had heard (from both sides) was technically hearsay.

Receipt signed by Brigadier Jap Burger in November 2022 for sections of the Fivaz intelligence files. (Images: Supplied)

It was fortunate, therefore, that Daily Maverick had been provided with such evidence, in the form of receipts for “SAPS liaison documents” from the Fivaz intelligence files, signed by Brigadier Burger in November 2022.

What these receipts meant, to Daily Maverick at least, was that it was more than likely that De Ruyter had not acted “on his own”.

And although we could not conclusively determine whether the SAPS had taken possession of the files any earlier than November 2022, we could put the question directly to Burger.

Did he confirm or deny the allegation, we asked the now retired brigadier, that he had begun to receive the liaison reports as early as July 2022?

Our WhatsApp message evoked a pair of blue ticks, indicating that it had been read, but at the time of writing it had still not elicited a response from Burger.

This was regrettable because, in our interview with Fivaz on 15 September 2023, we had been told the following: 

“Last year already, July or August, Jap Burger should have summonsed certain documentation from Eskom. I am talking about all the fake tenders, the work with a question mark, that we mentioned in the reports. He should have summonsed the paper trail, because they have the legal authority to do it and we don’t.

“As far as I understand from the Hawks, it’s difficult to get some of the documentation now, because it has been destroyed.”  

Fivaz had volunteered this information after we had asked him, given that he had been in regular contact with the Hawks, how close to making arrests the law enforcement agencies had now come.

And so there were still no simple answers, as had been the case since news of the Fivaz intelligence files first shocked the South African public.

What there was, though, thanks in large part to Scopa, was a pair of dedicated law enforcement teams with subpoena powers and (apparently) strong intent.

Fivaz, as “laughable” as he found the fact that the SIU was considering charges against him, was nevertheless work­­ing closely with security agencies on bringing the real criminals to book – and he was adamant, despite every­thing, that the teams were top-notch. DM

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R29.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Jan De Ruyter says:

    Jacques Pauw must be chocking on his dop tonight.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    “Why would Eskom appoint a private investigating company when the allegations could have been referred to the SIU, the DPCI or the State Security Agency for investigation?”

    Take a wild guess bud – it’s not rocket science.

  • Denise Smit says:

    The / of the ANC/EFF must protect the politicians involved up to the election next year. Mothibi and Lebeya has already created space enough for evidence to be destroyed. And the ANC/EFF says it is fixing Eskom!!!!!!! The destruction continues whiles billions is burnt on diesel to keep the lights on sometimes. Denise Smit

  • Pieter Malan says:

    All you need to camouflage and protect is time. Appoint a snail to huddle the truth and slime the evidence until the guilty ones become former employees.
    And Voila, nobody goes to jail.

  • Vincent Britz says:

    Absolutely no surprise there!

    The ANC government is using Zuma tactics by trying to cover up everything they are doing and still doing!
    Nothing will ever change in SA while the ANC have power, they have done nothing but destroy SA while making themselves rich off the backs of the middle class taxpayer’s of this country.

    IT’S TIME TO TAKE THE ANC GOVERNMENT DOWN AND SEND ALL THE CORRUPT POLITICIANS TO HELL.. (jail is to easy for criminals like the ANC politicians)

  • Richard Bryant says:

    Amazing how quickly David Mabuza simply disappeared from sight. In between his sojourns to Russia, his involvement in the sabotage of SA from the office of Deputy President needs proper investigation and if evidence is found, a charge of high treason.

    And then the most important question. Either Ramaphosa knew about what was happening and chose to cover it up, or he didn’t know?

    • Brian Cotter says:

      How many times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn’t see. The answer my friend is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind.
      A tribute to Cyril Ramaphosa

  • Les Thorpe says:

    Why am i getting message that URLs are not allowed when I haven’t entered any URLs??

  • Jon Quirk says:

    So very disturbing on so many levels; that it is slowly starting to emerge, suggests that not ALL are rotten within the ANC, but equally that it could be sat on, massaged to protect the guilty, clearly equally points to significant cabals within the ANC, the State Security apparatus, the Police, that remain both powerful, and with the ability to act with impunity, to protect themselves.

    Who are they? Many of us have our very strong suspicions, having followed events closely over the past decade or more – for example, it now makes very clear the reasoning behind all those delaying, Stalingrad processes – but equally it is clear that the forces for good within the ANC, and yes, there still are some, even at senior levels, STILL do not feel sufficiently secure enough to arrest, charge and prosecute all these rotten apples, who STILL have the power to damage state infrastructures and hold all our futures hostage.

    Very, very disturbing.

  • Tim Elliott says:

    It’s all smoke and mirrors. Just take one (of hundreds)project- Medupi power station. How many billions spent? How many years since the start? The result so far? Not one Watt being fed into the grid. And nobody is accountable. How is this at all possible?

  • Egmont Rohwer says:

    I would suggest that the ‘Comraids’ should read Andre de Ruyter’s book “Truth to Power” to get the missing bits.

  • Iam Fedup says:

    How on earth do these people get the qualifications like “advocate”? Own goal doesn’t express half of it. These fools wouldn’t be able to even organise a cock-up, never mind get to the truth. Divas may not have the (dubious) qualifications, but when is comes to effectiveness at exposing these scoundrels, he has vastly more credibility.

  • Iam Fedup says:

    And, of course, the 4 ads of lies and spin used by the ANC gang: Divert, Deflect, Deceive, and Deny.

  • Kev 1 says:

    Surely there must be a call to charge those found wanting for treason – including those fingered in the Zondo reports !!

  • Brian Doyle says:

    The ANC are doing their usual, slowing the inquiry down to allow as much evidence to be destroyed, which shows Ramaphosa is not telling the truth when it comes to pursuing ANC corrupt ministers and members

  • It’s incredibly depressing reading this. Not revelatory, but depressing because it exemplifies what is known already.

  • Rae Earl says:

    I have respected News 24 unreservedly as an honest investigative news publisher. What the hell have they done? Can I no longer keep them on the same pedestal as I place Daily Maverick? And Pravin Gordhan? Another broken trust? This ANC mob simply has to be voted out or we are doomed. My usual quote from Ayn Rand herewith and it is so to-the-point in our poisoned country:

    “When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion – when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing – when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors – when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you – when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice – you may know that your society is doomed”.
    Ayn Rand

    • Neil Parker says:

      Right on the button! And in the context of Andre de Ruyter, I will take the liberty of quoting your quote: “when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you – when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice – you may know that your society is doomed”.

      In the context of this article it seems that Lebeya and Mothibi are effectively saying “we’d love to ignore the (Fivaz) intelligence reports but we can’t.”

      On what grounds – News 24 and particularly Jacques Pauw – did you “dismiss” Cerita Joubert’s legal opinion and tout your own rubbish ? We demand answers!

  • Neil Parker says:

    So what does fake News 24 have to say about this ?

  • Con Tester says:

    This Andy Mothibi bloke is clearly (!) an ANC stooge, as evidenced by his repeated insistence that André de Ruyter is a criminal of the same ilk as the crooks decimating Ekskrom, and repeatedly ignoring de Ruyter’s claims that he had reported the malfeasances at Ekskrom to the appropriate authorities but that these reports were simply swept under the rug.

    Mothibi is playing for time with a game of Charades to feed the ANC’s pre-election “renewal” and “anti-corruption” narratives. It’s smoke and mirrors, distracting from a huge, roiling pile of BS underneath. Lots of promises are being / will be made to investigate and to charge and to prosecute, but nothing will come of them. After next year’s elections, it will be as if none of this ever happened, and the theft and looting at Ekskrom will accelerate with renewed vigour.

  • Middle aged Mike says:

    I don’t believe for a second that any “key law enforcement agencies are working on bringing criminals to book”. The corruption and thievery is so blatantly obvious that they must be spraining their necks from looking the other way so hard.

  • Neil Parker says:

    Perhaps as civil society we need to put together a defamation suit (on behalf of de Ruyter and GFFR) against Lebeya and Mothibi so that – at very least – we put to bed absolutely and permanently any notion that de Ruyter acted of his own accord. That he “had acted unlawfully in commissioning the private investigation”. That “GFFR and Business Leadership South Africa, which had funded the intelligence-gathering operation, may have been guilty too”. Senior members of the country’s most important crime prevention units CANNOT be allowed to continue touting this politically inspired junk – they must be forced to retract.

    • Con Tester says:

      Locus standi will be difficult to establish for civil society at large because no direct harm has come to civil society from Mothibi’s and Lebeya’s transparently specious declarations. As much as it would be great for civil society to give such opportunistic mendacity by the ANC’s talking heads a resounding smackdown, any civil action against them would in all likelihood have to originate from the injured parties, namely André de Ruyter himself and possibly GFFR, too.

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