Investigator accuses SSA of reluctance to deal with Eskom corruption
Retired police brigadier Jap Burger has accused the State Security Agency (SSA) of reluctance to investigate corruption at Eskom, saying it went as far as shutting down investigations.
Burger finally appeared before parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) to talk about his role in investigating malfeasance at the entity.
He was the police representative who engaged former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter on the corruption, criminal activity and maladministration taking place at the power utility.
Burger said when he received information from George Fivaz Forensic & Risk, the private investigating company hired by De Ruyter to gather intelligence at Eskom, the SSA did not co-operate and shut the investigation.
He said he never received or saw a concluded report from the Fivaz group, but broad allegations at different intervals and their information was incomplete.
Most information was about criminality at Eskom and very little about organised crime, he said. Burger couldn’t remember seeing any information about financial irregularities.
My concern at the time is George Fivaz Forensic & Risk came in from a perspective that they are going to use psychological warfare tactics to support Mr de Ruyter. For me, being a police officer, that is very dangerous. Why would you use that kind of tactic? That for me immediately contaminated the spaceJap Burger, retired police brigadier
“I do not know of a report. I’ve said I’ve received information, operational intelligence reports.”
Because the “intelligence information” was not validated and was the work of a private entity done parallel to the country’s intelligence services, he passed it to SSA to validate.
“I shared some information with them to validate it, to corroborate and substantiate it, and that is where it was shut down. [There was] no co-operation from them. They didn’t want to deal with it.”
He eventually passed the information to a Hawks’ special team investigating Eskom, he said.
Burger also told MPs he was not comfortable working with Fivaz’s company because of the “psychological warfare” tactics they used.
“My concern at the time is they came in from a perspective that they are going to use psychological warfare tactics to support Mr De Ruyter. For me, being a police officer, that is very dangerous.
“Why would you use those kind of tactics? That for me immediately contaminated the space. Why would that be necessary?”
He said the SSA should be serving Eskom or the energy sector with proactive intelligence to ensure the company is security compliant and competent.
This is something he said he emphasised in his initial engagements with De Ruyter, including asking him whether he had received a security briefing about that. The answer was no, he said.
He claimed there was no product or support from the SSA with intelligence that was supposed to go to De Ruyter or any head of a similar institution.
Burger said he also advised De Ruyter to get Eskom officials vetted as security clearance and vetting were one instrument to clean up and make sure the company has people of integrity.
Through the process, the SSA would start identifying certain vulnerabilities in the organisation and with individuals.
It emerged last year that De Ruyter himself was not vetted.
The SSA previously told Scopa Eskom remained the biggest challenge in terms of vetting of officials. This was not due to the ineffectiveness of the SSA but the failure of the applicants to submit the required information, said former state security deputy minister Zizi Kodwa.
He singled out De Ruyter as having failed since June 2022 to submit information.
In response, Eskom said it was not aware of any requests for documentation from the SSA dating back to June.
“Only in October 2022 did Eskom receive the vetting documents [Z204 forms] for processing by the CEO, who has been in this position since January 2020, and other executives.”
De Ruyter told Scopa in April he had provided all the information at his disposal about crime and corruption at Eskom to a police officer designated by national police commissioner Gen Fannie Masemola to be the liaison with the intelligence operation investigating the allegations.
“This officer has had full access to all the intelligence gathered and has stated to me he has kept his line command informed,” De Ruyter said at the time.
Scopa will decide the way forward in two weeks’ time.
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