Eskom’s board, which assumed office in 2018 under the leadership of chairperson Jabu Mabuza, found irregular expenditure to the tune of R19 billion – R16 billion more than the R3 billion initially reported by the power utility.
This led to the board laying criminal charges with the Hawks in particular relating to the power utility’s coal supply agreement with Gupta-owned Tegeta, explained Mabuza when he testified before the state capture inquiry on Friday.
He said a report released in November found that senior Eskom executives and officials also violated anticorruption laws to the tune of R659 million in prepayments to Tegeta.
The report he said recommended criminal investigations into board members and former officials Matshela Koko, Anoj Singh and Suzanne Daniels.
It also recommended that Singh and Koko be investigated for misrepresenting facts on the matter before Parliament.
Mabuza, who was the first witness to testify at the commission about the financially distressed parastatal also informed the commission that the board “will start pursuing civil claims” over the matter.
“Some action will be taken, some land in the area of criminal charges being laid ... but others we are embarking on are of a civil nature.
“We have laid criminal charges and handed it over to the Hawks and SIU [Special Investigating Unit] and now we will start pursuing civil claims,” said Mabuza.
He took over as Eskom board chairperson in January last year, and revealed to the commission that his board found that the embattled power utility was the “main theatre” for corruption and state capture.
“There was a lot of graft, a lot of malfeasance. It was the main theatre where corruption and state capture was taking place. The morale was low, people were not too proud to be associated with this organisation.
“When we took office, as I got to know later ... the last money Eskom could find from the market was in July 2017. Funders had drawn a line in the ground. They said we are not putting one cent more here under this current leadership at Eskom,” said Mabuza.
He added that what was more worrying was that Eskom’s survival or not would have a telling effect on the socioeconomic fabric of the citizenry of South Africa.
Mabuza said the current board was working on stabilising things at Eskom but he, however, acknowledged that there was still a lot of work to be done before this was achieved.
Prior to being chairperson at Eskom, Mabuza was the chairperson of telecommunications giant Telkom, one of the only entities in which the government is a majority shareholder with a 40% share managed to remain “uncaptured”.