Sunday, November 28, 2021

South Africa’s Special Tribuna froze Eskom manager’s bank account over alleged kickbacks

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The Special Tribunal on Friday froze the bank accounts of another senior Eskom manager over millions in alleged kickbacks.

The SIU had launched civil proceedings against the power utility’s coal operations senior manager, Petrus Mazibuko, after a whistle-blower alerted them to R11m worth of alleged kickbacks which were paid to him.

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SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said an interim order to freeze the account had been granted. He said the order was granted pending arguments for a final forfeiture.

“The SIU approached the Special Tribunal to freeze the funds after allegations were received from a whistle-blower that Petrus Mazibuko was receiving unauthorised gratification from two Eskom suppliers, namely Commodity Logistix Managers Africa and Thembathlo Pty Ltd, through a bank account held by Thephunokhetja Projects,” he said.

“The SIU investigated the allegations. As part of the investigation, the SIU obtained the bank statements as well as the account opening documents from First National Bank.”

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“The documents show that Mazibuko and Shadrack Mazibuko, who is also cited in the court application, are the signatories to the bank account. The bank statements show that the only source of income into this account is from the two Eskom suppliers,” said Kganyago.

On Tuesday this week, the Pretoria high court awarded the National Prosecuting Authority’s investigating directorate a restraint order valued at R1.4bn, against former Eskom executives and former Tubular Construction Projects contractors.

The preservation order, granted in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crimes Act, was served and enforced on former Eskom senior manager for Capital Contracts  France Hlakudi; its former group executive for Group Capital, Abram Masango; former Tubular Construction Projects CEO Antonio Trindade; former Tubular Holdings executive adviser Michael Lomas; businessperson Maphoko Kgomoeswana; and six companies owned by these individuals.

Kganyago said on Friday that the latest investigation uncovered no evidence that suggested that Thephunokhetja Projects rendered services or was legally entitled to claim for goods or services rendered to either Commodity Logistix Managers Africa and Thembathlo.

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“There was no evidence or explanation that the funds held in Thephunokhetja Projects’ bank account were anything other than unauthorised gratification.”

Kganyago said the order prohibited both Petrus Mazibuko and Shadrack Mazibuko from dealing with the funds held in the bank account.

He said the investigation had also revealed that Petrus had not obtained any written authority to do work outside his Eskom employment, or to receive any remuneration in addition to his Eskom salary.

“This is a violation of Eskom’s conflict of interest policy requiring all employees to annually disclose their interests. This evidence was referred to Eskom with the recommendation to suspend Mazibuko pending the investigation’s finalisation.”

He said the investigation stemmed from a presidential proclamation issued in 2018 to the SIU, compelling it to investigate the procurement of, or contracting for, services by Eskom and payments that were made in regard to these services.

“The proclamation allows the SIU to investigate allegations of corruption and maladministration in the affairs of Eskom in which the power utility company suffered financial losses that can be recovered.”

The SIU investigation is continuing, he said.

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