MPs to subpoena Brigadier Jaap Burger over Eskom corruption probe after repeated Scopa no-shows
Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts has ‘unanimously resolved’ to subpoena Brigadier Jaap Burger after the police officer failed to appear before the committee on numerous occasions.
Brigadier Jaap Burger has been named as the SAPS officer who allegedly took receipt of the intelligence files from erstwhile Eskom CEO André de Ruyter by at least July 2022.
Daily Maverick previously reported that a legal opinion that “shredded national security as a shield against testifying before an open committee” saw Parliament’s watchdog on public spending insisting that the retired brigadier must appear before it.
“Eskom is regarded as a National Security concern, is a National Key Point, and is part of the critical infrastructure of the country and therefore requires security competence by those involved in such matters… None of the concerns raised in Scopa were, according to my knowledge, referred to any of these oversight committees that have appropriate procedures to deal with National Security matters such as the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence,” Burger wrote in the letter dated 19 June.
Read more in Daily Maverick: SAPS brigadier cocks a snook at Scopa, invoking national security, and calls for MPs to be disciplined
“We will invite Brigadier Burger [to appear before us] and expect his response within seven working days. In the event that he is not agreeable to appear before the committee then a subpoena will be issued,” Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) chairperson, IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa, said at the time.
Wednesday, 25 October was set as the date for Burger’s appearance. He did not appear.
Before this, Burger had twice snubbed Scopa’s invitations to appear at its investigative hearings into claims of mismanagement and corruption at Eskom made by De Ruyter in a televised interview on 23 February.
In the aftermath of that interview – in which De Ruyter alleged the existence of criminal cartels and high-level ANC officials’ involvement in criminal activity at Eskom – Parliament has sought answers around the private intelligence operation and how the allegations were and are being handled by law enforcement authorities.
At a meeting of Scopa on 9 May 2023, attended by the heads of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), the Hawks and the SAPS, National Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Fannie Masemola was pressured into conceding that he had been aware of a private investigation at Eskom since at least July 2022.
This, Masemola explained, was conveyed to him by Burger whom he had delegated to oversee the matter. De Ruyter told MPs in April: “This officer [Burger] has had full access to all of the intelligence gathered and has stated to me that he has kept his line command informed.”
Read more in Daily Maverick: SAPS knew of private Eskom corruption probe while significant portions of De Ruyter statements corroborated
Scopa said on Wednesday that “the committee secretariat has today informed Brigadier Burger of the committee’s decision to subpoena him and that he is subpoenaed to appear before the committee on 15 November 2023. Mr Hlengwa has sent a letter of concurrence to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, requesting her to approve the subpoena.
“The committee previously met with the former Eskom Group Chief Executive, Mr André de Ruyter, on 26 April 2023 for an open and frank discussion about the serious allegations he made in a television interview that aired on 23 February 2023. The allegations related to corruption, criminal activity and maladministration at Eskom.
“During this meeting, Mr De Ruyter mentioned the law enforcement and intelligence agencies that he had personally engaged with to report this alleged corruption, criminal activity and maladministration. These engagements included the sharing of a privately funded intelligence report on Eskom.”
Scopa continued: “The Head of Security at Eskom also confirmed in a meeting with Scopa on 10 May 2023 that there was a meeting with Brigadier Burger in August 2022, where the Brigadier requested information on specific areas of criminality at the national power utility.”
Read more in Daily Maverick: Eskom news
Read more in Daily Maverick: Eskom Intelligence Files
“On 26 May 2023, Scopa extended a written invitation to the SAPS National Commissioner to reappear before it on 7 June 2023, for a follow-up meeting with the SAPS and the SIU, with a keen interest to hear from Brigadier Burger, as his name had recurred in previous discussions with reference to his knowledge of the intelligence-gathering operation at Eskom. However, Brigadier did not attend the 7 June meeting. Instead, he wrote to the Speaker of the National Assembly raising concerns about Scopa’s involvement in criminal matters related to Eskom.
“Notwithstanding the newly received information of the Brigadier’s retirement, it remains important that he, as the former SAPS official alleged to have been informed about the activities taking place at Eskom, appears before Scopa to account for what he knows.” DM