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Hawks arrest Eskom manager in connection with R1m fraud at power utility

Hawks arrest Eskom manager in connection with R1m fraud at power utility
Adobe Stock | Thandeka Nkosi, a senior Eskom buyer, faces charges of fraud, theft and money laundering involving R14m. (Photo: Supplied) | A coal-fired power station, operated by Eskom in Mpumalanga. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A manager at Eskom’s Hendrina Power Station and an alleged accomplice were arrested on Wednesday for allegedly doing business with the power utility which led to Eskom suffering a loss of more than R1m.

The Hawks’ Middelburg-based Serious Commercial Crime Investigation unit arrested Nontuthubo Surprise Mahweliri (44), a manager at Eskom’s Hendrina Power Station in Mpumalanga, and her alleged accomplice, Mokgawa Recca Sewla (39), on Wednesday on charges of fraud, theft and money laundering.

hawks arrest eskom manager fraud R1m

Nontuthubo Surprise Mahweliri (44), a manager at Eskom’s Hendrina Power Station in Mpumalanga, was arrested on charges of fraud, theft and money laundering. (Photo: Supplied / Hawks)

hawks arrest eskom manager fraud R1m

Mokgawa Recca Sewla, arrested on charges of fraud, theft, and money laundering, was released on R50,000 bail. (Photo: Supplied / Hawks)

Mahweliri and Sewla were charged alongside Mahwerili’s company NKG Trading Investment, and Dithari Funding, of which Sewla is a director. According to the Hawks, Mahweliri had denied she was doing business with Eskom.

“During [the] investigation, it was revealed that [Mahwerili] was a shareholder at NKG and Dithari. Both companies were conducting business with Eskom.

“This was discovered on the declaration forms and tender documents submitted by NKG and Dithari Funding to Eskom. As a result, Eskom suffered an actual loss of R1,082,884.51,” said Mpumalanga Hawks spokesperson Captain Dineo Sekgotodi.

Mahwerili and Sewla appeared in the Hendrina Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday and were released on R50,000 bail.

The matter was postponed to 19 February at the Middelburg Specialised Commercial Crime Court.

Past arrests

Other people arrested and charged with alleged Eskom fraud and corruption in Mpumalanga include Nozipho Ntuli, a senior buyer at Eskom’s coal-fired Duvha Power Station, and three c0- accused: George Edward Sekatane (43), Alfred Lebohang Sekatane (60) and Thulani Harris Mkhabela (40).

They were arrested in March 2023 in Witbank on fraud and corruption charges.

The alleged fraud and corruption at Duvha Power Station occurred between 2016 and 2019 when contracts were allegedly awarded without adhering to established supply chain management processes.

Further investigation by the Hawks revealed that the companies Phoenix and Itereleng Masheleng, allegedly owned by Ntuli’s boyfriend, George Sekatane, and Hustle Hard, owned by Thulani Harris Mkhabela, were awarded the dubious contracts. Eskom lost an estimated R4.9-million.

On 17 March 2023, Thandeka Innocentia Nkosi, a senior buyer at the Matla Power Station in Mpumalanga, was arrested on corruption, fraud and money laundering charges.

Nkosi, 71-year-old Rabela Sarah Jones and her son Godfrey Jason Jones (46) were accused of defrauding the power utility of R14.7-million. Two months later, Portuguese national Maria Cantelo (53), was also linked to the corruption and fraud and appeared in the Hendrina Specialised Commercial Crimes Court. 

A fifth suspect in that case, Patric Patrese Jones (55), was arrested on September 7 in Gordon’s Bay, Western Cape.

The NPA has, however, been criticised for failing to successfully prosecute complex financial crimes related to Eskom.

One of the largest Eskom corruption cases, the R2.2-billion Kusile State Capture corruption case, was struck off the roll in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Middelburg on 21 November due to “unreasonable delays” after the NPA’s Investigating Directorate (ID) requested yet another postponement.

Read more in Daily Maverick: NPA’s bungled Matshela Koko Kusile corruption case sounds alarm bells over directorate’s preparedness to prosecute

However, the ID has said it is confident that the case will be re-enrolled as soon as the remaining aspects of the investigation are completed. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • virginia crawford says:

    There should be a new crime: economic terrorism/ treason. Stiff mandatory sentences and no bail. Delays benefit the guilty while they live it up out on bail – it would be in their interests to speed them up if they were in prison.

  • Kanu Sukha says:

    With middle names like ‘Surprise’ and ‘Innocentia’ … I am not surprised at all by all the innocence !

  • Rae Earl says:

    These crooks have all stolen money from SA tax payers in the long run. The charges should be treason and the jail terms life. That’ll put the cat among the pigeons who get fat thanks to crooked tenders etc.

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    I’d like to see an economic TRC introduced when we’re rid of the ANC (won’t happen under their disgusting watch). It would be simple: ‘fess up and pay back the money, you walk free, but are barred from government, or doing work for government for 25 years. No money left? A year in prison for each count and/or R1m stolen unless you can dish concrete dirt on others that leads to their arrest and successful prosecution. Don’t confess and get bust, life in prison with no parole for any amount, cumulatively, over R1m.

  • Bob Dubery says:

    Looking at the dates, it seems likely that these investigations were all launched whilst de Ruyter was at the helm.

  • Michael Thomlinson says:

    I bet she got a big Surprise! But these are the rats and mice in the system. What is R1 mil to Eskom? Nothing but petty cash. While this is seen as a success the real perps are off the hook! One wonders if the officials in the NPA are complicit in having the real case struck off the role. ie perhaps they have been paid off by the crooks to muddy the waters? It would not surprise me.

  • Lisbeth Scalabrini says:

    It would be interesting to do some research into the NPA. All we know is that it does not work. Why is only guesswork. Some say that it is under-sustained economically, others that the leaders are not up to the task and also that the NPA is undermanned. Certainly there is something wrong😡

  • Clive Seete Malumise says:

    By the looks is that Mpumalanga region is the biggest problematic of Eskom’s corruption as mostly if it is not coal and oil and blowing of power station generators as mostly managers are involved in the most corruption thats includes foreigners doing a corrupt businesses with them. So it is high time that Eskom board and Hawks and PP must sit down together to make sure whoever is involved must be arrested and all of their assests must be attached by the ASSETS FORFEITURE to attched everything they have then to all to lose their benefits from Eskom. Govt mustnt be lenient to them .

  • Random Comment says:

    De Ruyter stated that Eskom was losing a BILLION rand (ZAR1,000,000,000) a MONTH due to corruption (source: moneyweb 12feb23).

    The Hawks arrest and charge these two amateur criminals, who stole a paltry R1M IN TOTAL.

    And it’s FRONT PAGE NEWS? C’mon, pull the other one.

  • Jan Vos says:

    One million? Pfft! That’s just a drop in the Eskom bucket. I bet no one is going to go to jail. The usual…

  • Richard Baker says:

    NPA nibbling at the edges. Simply shying away from the big and important cases having been waved off. Meanwhile, SARS,FIC,SARB etc asleep at the wheel while the newly advantaged swan around their expensive estates in high-end cars completely immune and oblivious thinking it’s all quite normal and acceptable. Economy in meltdown, the true “missing middle”(actually the taxpaying cohort) diminishing by the day due to job losses and emigration. What a nation the ANC have created?!

  • Just Me says:

    Ex-CEO Andre de Ruyter’s work is starting to pay off. But these are only the small fry. The main culprits (who are ANC cadres or linked to ANC cadres) are still at large.

  • Gavin Knox says:

    This is good news, but 1 million compared to the billions already stolen….. the minnows are nothing…. get the BIG thieves…. you know who they are, go get them….

  • Iam Fedup says:

    So what’s new? And just remind me, how many of these morons are serving jail time? Oh yes… precisely none.

  • Lavinia Schlebusch says:

    So they got arrested, AND?
    Have their bank accounts been frozen and those of their extended family, have they had assets removed, you know, the fancy car, the SMEG appliances, the Rolexes, the jewellery, the big TV, etc, and have their companies had a forensic audit? Have they been barred from ever being a Director again, has their cushy pay and GEMS medical aid and pension fund been suspended? Have they received a termination letter from Eskom, with immediate effect? Have they felt any hardship since being arrested?
    Until they are in an orange jump suit with a final judgement handed down of prison time, and their whole family who all benefitted from their corruption are made to suffer by depriving them of their stuff, only then will these arrests be meaningful.
    Until then, all that happened was they got arrested. It’s what happens after the arrest that is important.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    Sadly these people are just smallfry and are arrested and prosecuted merely as examples of something being done. This is usually the case and the examples are usually women – not just in SA but around the world! IMHO!

  • There we go again! The corruption just never ends…. Lets just get an election date already and vote these criminals out the biggest of the bunch is CR 😏

  • Let us hope this Hawks and NPA they have evidence on the arrest of above suspects

  • Redwine#9 Sulphite free says:

    Peace

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