De Ruyter acknowledges whistleblower Bianca Goodson's role in Eskom's recovery of R1.6bn

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Ex-Trillian Management Consulting CEO Bianca Goodson at home in Johannesburg.
Ex-Trillian Management Consulting CEO Bianca Goodson at home in Johannesburg.
Felix Dlangamandla
  • Whistleblower Bianca Goodson says she wants power utility Eskom to consider rewarding those who took risks to speak out against fraud and corruption. 
  • Goodson says her efforts have not been acknowledged and she has suffered from post traumatic distress disorder, the failure of her marriage and unemployment.
  • In a letter, Eskom CEO Andre De Ruyter has lauded Goodson's efforts, saying she contributed to the successful recovery of funds.

Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter has acknowledged the efforts of whistleblower Bianca Goodson in helping the power utility recover funds lost through state capture project. 

Goodson helped expose dealings between global management consultancy McKinsey and Gupta-linked advisory firm Trillian which cost Eskom over a billion rand. Goodson wants De Ruyter to consider financially rewarding those who took the risk of speaking out. 

In a letter addressed to De Ruyter, dated 17 October, Goodson relays how as a former CEO of Trillian, she risked her career and marriage to expose the working relations between the financial advisory frim and the US-headquartered consultancy; this contributed to Eskom's efforts to recover R1.6 billion lost to these contracts through unlawful payments.

In 2018 McKinsey paid back more than R1 billion, including interest, to Eskom.

Goodson contributed evidence to former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's investigations into state capture in September 2016, to the Parliamentary inquiry into Eskom in 2017, as well as advocate Geoff Budlender's investigation into Trillian in the same year. In her letter she said she has suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, a divorce and has been unable to find work since.

"Consider providing some of Eskom's financial gains to the whistleblowers who have lost much in their efforts to promote Eskom's cause.

"For both myself and the many whistleblowers out there who suffer a similar loss to me, financial support would go a long way in being able to retain their dignity and ability to support their loved ones," Goodson wrote.

She referenced US legislation which acknowledges and rewards whistleblowers for their efforts and suggested this similarly be considered in South Africa. "To date, I have received no recognition from Eskom for the numerous hours that I invested into their successful application let alone the recognition that my support of Eskom was in fact a trauma trigger," she wrote.

"Although I am glad that Eskom received the R1.6 billion, I am broke, have medical bills to pay for, disheartened by the fact that no one will employ me and cannot afford to care for my daughter," she said. 

Goodson also recommended that De Ruyter consider employing whistleblowers. "Their character is on public display and although they have lost much, their skill sets and competencies have not changed. An action such as this will defy any perception that whistleblowers are 'trouble makers'," said Goodson.

In response, in a letter dated 20 October, De Ruyter acknowledged Goodson's efforts. "I admire your single-minded courage to speak up for the truth and the law, even when this was clearly at considerable cost to you and your family," De Ruyter wrote.

Deeply grateful

"You made a very substantial contribution to the successful recovery of Eskom funds that were unlawfully paid out during the height of state capture, for which we are truly grateful."

He noted that Goodson's proposal to have whistleblowers share in the financial recoveries made by public entities, it is a first of its kind and there is no provision in SA law for whistleblower compensation.

"As the law stands, and having regard to Eskom's duty to act in accordance with the applicable legislation, we unfortunately cannot pay you a reward or similar for the information which you disclosed," De Ruyter wrote.

Noting that Goodson planned to set up an advisory firm to large corporations with respect to whistleblowing, De Ruyter invited Goodson to address a group of senior executives and managers at Eskom to learn from her experiences as a whistleblower.  "As is customary with such invitations, there will [be] a modest speaker's fee associated with this event," he said.  

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