Public Protector to probe Molefe's R30m pension payout

Brian Molefe. (City Press)
Brian Molefe. (City Press)

Johannesburg - Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has agreed to probe the decision that led to a R30m golden handshake for former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe.

The Public Protector confirmed in a letter that she would take up the investigation, but merge it with two other complaints.

Public Protector spokesperson Cleopatra Mosana told Fin24 the Public Protector would be probing the role of Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown, as well as the Eskom board's role in the saga.

The Democratic Alliance requested the investigation after it emerged that the Eskom board approved a R30m pension payout to Molefe, after only 18 months as CEO of Eskom.

Molefe briefly returned as CEO of Eskom on May 15, but was removed again two weeks later when Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown ordered the board to reverse his reinstatement.

He has since launched an application in the Labour Court to have the rescission of his appointment declared unlawful.

Daily Maverick’s investigative unit Scorpio revealed that the Eskom Pension and Provident Fund flouted a number of rules to help Molefe secure his extravagant pension. Scorpio obtained leaked emails from the state utility that outlined how pension fund officials were coaxed into dubious approvals relating to Molefe's pension. Scorpio's report raised questions whether Molefe was even entitled to a pension, because he was not a permanent worker.

Last week Eskom released its annual results, stating in the notes to its financial statements that the R30m that Molefe received as an early retirement benefit will only be refunded to the company pursuant to a court order.

Natasha Mazzone, the DA's spokesperson on public enterprises, welcomed the probe. She said the "outrageous payout is a gross abuse of public funds, especially after Molefe resigned 'in the interests of good corporate governance' after his close ties to the Guptas were revealed in the damning State of Capture report".

"Molefe does not deserve the R30m. In fact, he does not deserve a single cent. He must pay back every dime of the R30m to Eskom," Mazzone said. "It is unacceptable that an individual such as Brian Molefe, who sits deeply in the pockets of the Guptas, is rewarded not for doing a good job."

She said South Africans deserve public servants who work to improve their lives, not individuals who are only interested in lining their own pockets.

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