Koko hearing stalls on first day

19 October 2017 - 07:45 By Kyle Cowan
Matshela Koko. File photo.
Matshela Koko. File photo.
Image: Freddy Mavunda/Financial Mail

The disciplinary inquiry of suspended Eskom executive Matshela Koko was adjourned early on Wednesday night‚ after the company's case presenter failed to secure key witnesses to give evidence.

The inquiry centres around six charges relating to Koko's alleged failure to declare a conflict of interest relating to contracts worth more than R1-billion granted to Impulse International‚ a company in which his stepdaughter Koketso Choma held shares through the Mokoni Trust.

Sebetja Matsaung told the hearing he was unable to reach investigators from Nkonki Inc‚ the firm that conducted a forensic investigation into allegations against Koko‚ Eskom's former acting CEO and head of generation.

“They are ducking and diving‚” Matsaung said. “And their phones are off. Whether it is deliberate‚ I do not know.”

Matsaung had called two other witnesses‚ Daphney Morwalle‚ chief advisor to Eskom's internal assurance and forensic unit‚ as well as Johan Scholtz‚ who works in group IT and is responsible for maintaining Eskom's electronic filing system.

Morwalle dropped a bombshell when under questioning she stated that the declaration of interest Koko had filed on February 24 this year relating to his stepdaughter's involvement with Impulse was seemingly not legitimate – it was missing a tracking or reference number generated by the electronic filing system and did not have a date or time stamp.

When shown another example of a declaration form‚ she managed to verify its authenticity as it contained both a tracking number and date stamp.

But Advocate Frans Barrie‚ representing Koko‚ was quick to dismiss this evidence‚ arguing that the authenticity of the declaration was not contested in the charge sheet.

“This is irrelevant. There is nothing in the charge sheet dealing with whether or not this declaration exists in Eskom's electronic system‚” he stated.

Morwalle hit back under questioning by Barrie.

“I checked‚ it is not in the electronic system‚” she said.

Scholtz was not allowed to be heard‚ after Barrie again argued that his evidence would relate directly to the authenticity of the declaration‚ which had no bearing on the charges before the chairman‚ Mzungulu Mthombeni.

At the start of proceedings‚ Barrie ensured the record contained the fact that the charge sheet under consideration was exactly the same as presented to Koko in August.

Matsaung was forced to concede to Barrie’s argument and asked for an adjournment to attempt to reach other witnesses.

After the adjournment‚ he asked for the matter to proceed on Thursday to give him time to ensure Nkonki investigators would be present.

In Koko's plea‚ he does deal with the declaration‚ saying he had handed it to the chairman at the time‚ Ben Ngubane‚ who he claims accepted his explanation and that Ngubane was “satisfied with Koko's explanation of the history of events” and subsequently signed off on the form.

It is held in the charge sheet that Koko “should reasonably have been aware” of Choma's involvement in Impulse around August or September 2016.

According to Eskom policy‚ Morwalle stated‚ a declaration of conflict of interest must be filed within five days of the employee discovering the conflict while Koko's declaration form was only submitted in February 2017‚ around the time a whistleblower report detailing Choma and Koko's involvement was handed to Ngubane.