SIU probes R139 billion rot at Medupi and Kusile - report

Worker at an electric substation with sunset background
Worker at an electric substation with sunset background

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is investigating the alleged theft of R139 billion from Eskom, related to the construction of the Medupi and Kusile power stations, the Sunday Times has reported.

This is reportedly part of a broader SIU investigation into the theft of about R170 billion from the power utility.

The paper reported that the SIU is looking at 11 contractors as part of its investigation into the building of the two units. It is reportedly one of the biggest undertaken by the SIU yet, with the unit bringing in additional investigative capacity, including expert engineers.

The investigation began in June 2018 and also comprises other state authorities like the National Prosecuting Authority, the Asset Forfeiture Unit and the Hawks, the Sunday paper reported.

The SIU is reportedly also working with overseas investigators due to fears that the profits from the alleged crimes may have been funneled offshore. The locations were not disclosed.

Eskom board chairperson Jabu Mabuza called the parastatal the "main theatre where corruption and state capture was taking place", when he gave evidence to the state capture commission of inquiry on Friday, News24 reported.

Riddled with flaws

Business Day reported last week that the two mega-power stations were riddled with "design flaws" that resulted in their poor performance. The paper reported that of the six generating units that failed earlier this month, resulting in load shedding, two were at Medupi.

Eskom has reportedly laid the blame for its problems at the door of the contractors on the plants. Some of the technical problems plaguing the plants reportedly include boiler design faults, coal mills which don’t meet the required technical specifications, and problematic gas air heaters.

Government plans to split Eskom into three units in an effort to save the power utility, which has been declared technically insolvent, Fin24 reported. Finance minister Tito Mboweni has pledged financial support to Eskom from national treasury of R23bn per year for the next three years. But he said government would not take on Eskom’s debt, which amounts to over R400bn.

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