SIU wants answers about De Ruyter's use of private intelligence at Eskom

09 May 2023 - 22:31
By Andisiwe Makinana
Special Investigating Unit head Andy Mothibi says he hopes improvements to laws around whistle-blower protection will mean adequate funding will be made in this regard. File photo.
Image: Veli Nhlapo Special Investigating Unit head Andy Mothibi says he hopes improvements to laws around whistle-blower protection will mean adequate funding will be made in this regard. File photo.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) wants the use of a private intelligence operation by former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter to be investigated.

SIU head Andy Mothibi told parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) on Tuesday that part of the unit's mandate was to investigate maladministration and malpractice and “among others, it is in our interest to seek certain clarifications and answers to certain questions in terms of what has transpired”.

De Ruyter told Scopa last month that Eskom had not only contracted private security to investigate coal theft and tampering, but overt and covert surveillance and intelligence gathering had been put in place.

He added that as a result of an intelligence-led operation, significant information had been gathered on the extent of organised crime in Eskom, particularly in Mpumalanga.

De Ruyter said, “The findings of this investigation have been extensively shared with senior officers in the SAPS, in compliance with reporting obligations, and co-operation with the SAPS is continuing.”

But police, Hawks and SIU bosses denied any knowledge of an intelligence report.

Mothibi said the SIU needed to understand:

  • Who authorised the appointment of the private investigating company to which the former CEO referred?
  • Why would Eskom appoint a private investigating company when the allegations could have been referred to the SIU, to the Hawks or State Security Agency for investigation?
  • Whether the report of the private investigating company was handed to Eskom and presented to the accounting authority (board). If the report was presented to the accounting authority, the SIU would like to see the report.
  • How was the private investigating company paid by Eskom?
  • If the investigation report was paid by third parties, who are they?
  • Whether the payment by Eskom to the private investigating company was budgeted for and authorised by the accounting authority.
  • Whether the outcome of the investigation is being acted upon, and if so, how is it acted upon and by whom?
  • Who leaked the report to the media and why? 

Mothibi said as soon as the SIU became aware of the existence of the report, on the morning before De Ruyter was due to appear before Scopa, its investigating team immediately requested a copy of the report from Eskom but was advised last Friday that the company was not in possession of the report.

It was also confirmed during Tuesday’s meeting that national police commissioner Gen Fannie Masemola and police top brass met De Ruyter twice in June and July 2022 to talk about criminal activity at Eskom.

According to the police, De Ruyter did not specify any incidents or allegations but made general remarks about corruption, especially in procurement.

But De Ruyter told Scopa last month that after a meeting with the police, Masemola designated a police brigadier to be the liaison with the intelligence operation.

“This officer has had full access to all of the intelligence gathered and has stated to me that he has kept his line command informed.

“Additionally, since changes were made to the management of the Hawks in Mpumalanga, similar exchanges have been held with senior commanders in the province, and I am informed that all applicable information has been put at their disposal,” he said.

Masemola told MPs the brigadier he designated told him he had been briefed and the information he received from a private investigator was escalated to the Hawks and the Investigating Directorate.  

He said he was aware of an involvement of a private investigator but not intelligence collection.

Addressing police minister Bheki Cele, ANC MP Sakhumzi Somyo said Masemola’s responses were not satisfactory. He said there was an indication that the police commissioner had known of some information, as claimed by De Ruyter.

“It looks like the former GCEO is correct that the police have all this information but they failed to act somewhat.”

Scopa chair Mkhuleko Hlengwa shared Somyo’s sentiment, saying it looked like the police had dropped the ball.

“We, seated here now, have very little comfort in the work that has been done,” he said.

But Masemola argued that he didn’t get the report, and according to the brigadier it was not an intelligence report but “information that he got”.

“He said he had shared it with investigating authorities; that was just sufficient for me. I never laid a hand on the report.”

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