Eskom infiltrated NGOs meetings, marches

2013-11-12 12:45
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Cape Town – An intelligence company contracted by Eskom infiltrated NGOs’ public meetings and marches it has been revealed after the energy provider made a public apology for spying.

According to Earthlife Africa project co-ordinator, Tristen Taylor, “the security company infiltrated public meetings, marches, demonstrations” and analysed activities and discussions.

The three non-governmental organisations which fell victim to the intelligence gathering programme were Greenpeace, groundwork, and Earthlife Africa.

Melita Steele, energy campaigner for Greenpeace Africa, says Eskom is threatened by the NGOs’ activities.

“We are viewed as a threat because of our campaigns for clean energy based on renewable and also our work in communities around coal-fired power stations,” she told News24.

“We don’t know when the infiltration started,” she said.

Andrew Etzinger, acting spokesperson for Eskom, said Swartberg Intelligence Support was contracted for 24 months.

“Swartberg cast a wide net including rumours and tip-offs to understand the risk profile associated with a broad range of stakeholders,” he told News24.

Public apology

In a press release Eskom said “Medupi security management had entered into the contract with Swartberg to ensure protection of the site and to anticipate threats to personnel and property following civil unrest at Medupi in May 2011”.

On Monday Eskom CEO, Brian Dames, made a public apology to the three NGOs and condemned the use of private companies for intelligence gathering.

Eskom has since terminated its contract with Swartberg and commissioned an independent firm to investigate and provide recommendations.

According to Eskom the firm found that “while gathering intelligence to prevent security threats to personnel and property is within the norms of ordinary business practice, there was concern about the way in which the contract was managed and the risks for Eskom in contracting such services”. 

Etzinger said that in future Eskom will make sure that tender committees awarding security contracts and intelligence follow a different process using state resources.

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Read more on:    earthlife africa  |  greenpeace africa  |  eskom  |  renewable energy  |  energy

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