The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) was briefed by the South African Police Service (SAPS), the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) and Special Investigating Unit (SIU) on the allegations of corruption as reported by the former Eskom CEO, Mr André de Ruyter. This meeting took place in Parliament.
The SAPS informed the Committee that it had established a multidisciplinary team to disrupt and combat the activities of criminal syndicates operating at Eskom power stations.
The DPCI was currently working on three known investigations linked to Mr de Ruyter. One was the alleged poisoning, where Mr de Ruyter was the complainant. Two was Mr Mmusi Maimane’s complaint that Mr de Ruyter had allegedly failed to lodge a Section 34 report in terms of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities (PRECCA) Act. Three was a report in terms of Section 34 of PRECCA that Mr de Ruyter had submitted on 25 April 2023 – a day before he appeared before SCOPA.
The SIU raised several questions that would be probed to gain further clarity on the existence of the private intelligence report and whether the outcomes thereof had been acted upon.
The Committee was particularly interested in the existence of a private intelligence report that Mr de Ruyter allegedly commissioned. It became concerning when the law enforcement and investigating authorities before the Committee insisted that they did not have sight of the private intelligence report, but Mr de Ruyter had explicitly informed the Committee that a police Brigadier (designated by the National Commissioner) had “full access to all of the intelligence gathered”.
The Committee said the collapse of Eskom at the hands of the syndicates was a major contributing factor to loadshedding. If the operational interventions of the SAPS were indeed working, then there should have been a reduction in criminal activities at Eskom power stations and, therefore, a reduction in loadshedding, but that had not happened. The President’s deployment of the army at Eskom’s power stations was an affirmation that law enforcement efforts had failed to protect the power stations, particularly because the deployment of the army was the last line of defence for any country.
Gen Bheki Cele, Minister of Police, said the deployment of the army was to assist law enforcement in its operations, particularly to combat the armed robbery and theft of truckloads of coal and diesel. The SAPS had been investigating Eskom-related crimes, such as coal and diesel theft, but the high-level investigations into organised crime were referred to the DPCI. He confirmed that the intelligence report by private investigators had only come to his attention following articles in the media. He had read that the investigation cost R50 million and was conducted by a company that a former National Commissioner, George Fivaz, led.
The Committee would meet with the Eskom Board the following day.
Mr Cassel Mathale, Deputy Minister of Police, thanked the Chairperson and the Committee for affording the South African Police Service (SAPS) an opportunity to respond to the issues raised. He said the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) would also provide its perspective on the issues subject to discussion.
Gen Fannie Masemola, National Commissioner of Police, said the first presentation would be led by Lt Gen Peter Jacobs, which would deal with the operational interventions that the SAPS was doing at Eskom. The second presentation would be led by Lt Gen (Dr/Adv) Godfrey Lebeya, focusing on the matters under investigation. The SAPS had been involved in Eskom for quite a while; it realised that the scope of crime at Eskom was because of problems within its management. SAPS had deployed police officials to Eskom, including officials from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), so that it could understand the type of problem it was dealing with. One area of concern that the police could not address was the internal management of various aspects within Eskom, especially at power stations.
Briefing by the SAPS: operational intervention on Eskom-related crime
Lt Gen Peter Jacobs, Divisional Commissioner: Crime Intelligence, SAPS, took the Committee through the SAPS presentation, which focused on the operational intervention on Eskom-related security and crime matters. The presentation addressed the following points:
• The information provided by Mr Andre de Ruyter to the SAPS top management:
Two meetings occurred between Mr de Ruyter and the SAPS on 4 June and 5 July 2022. No specific information containing elements that would enable the SAPS to open criminal investigations was conveyed during the meetings.
• The operational mechanisms and measures implemented:
An Energy Safety and Security Priority Committee of the ‘Natjoints’ was established to address Eskom-related crime on an interdepartmental, multidisciplinary basis to address the objectives of Work Stream Six of the National Energy Crisis Committee (NECOM).
A Mission Area Joint Operational Centre (MAJOC) was established in February 2023 and located at Megawatt Park (Eskom Head Office, Sunninghill) to serve as a Command, Control and Co-ordination Hub and enhance situational awareness of the participating departments of the mission area.
The operation was currently focussed on corruption within Eskom; theft of fuel oil; illegal coal yards; illegal trade in fuel and fuel oil; ghost-vending; infrastructure crime. Priority was given to matters directly impacting load-shedding.
• Eskom-related case management data:
1660 Eskom-related cases were reported to the SAPS between 1 April 2022 and 31 March 2023. 1 263 of the cases were still under investigation and 103 arrests had been made.
150 Eskom-related cases were reported to the SAPS between 1 April 2023 and 30 April 2023. 143 of the cases were still under investigation and eight arrests had been made.
• An overview of operational activities and related arrests and successes:
Since the inception of the Energy Safety and Security Priority Committee and the establishment of the MAJOC at Eskom Megawatt Park - Sunninghill, a total of 210 arrests emanating from combatting operations were made through the collaborative efforts of law enforcement, together with key inter-departmental role players.
Total value of items seized - R26 214 912
There were indications that the operational measures implemented had clearly disrupted the activities of criminal syndicates.
(See attached for full presentation)
Briefing by DPCI: allegations of corrupt and fraudulent activities and other maladministration issues at Eskom as reported by the former Group Chief Executive of Eskom, Mr de Ruyter.
Lt Gen Godfrey Lebeya, National Head, DPCI, said that the presentation was to respond to the Committee’s request and present the application of Section 34 reports in terms of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act 12 of 2004 (PRECCA), the process followed, and matters dealt with by the DPCI. The presentation outlined the following:
• Reporting Requirements in terms of the PRECCA Act 12 of 2004
• Investigations linked to Mr de Ruyter (Acknowledgement of the Section 34 Report after the DPCI received it from Mr de Ruyter’s attorneys):
There were currently three known investigations linked to Mr de Ruyter, namely:
- An alleged poisoning case, in which Mr de Ruyter was a complainant.
- Alleged failure to lodge a Section 34 report in terms of PRECCA, in which Mr de Ruyter was cited as suspect by Mr Mmusi Maimane.
- A report in terms of Section 34 of PRECCA, submitted on 25 April 2023 by a firm of attorneys on behalf of Mr de Ruyter. It was important to note that that was the first Section 34 report reported to the Central Reporting Office on behalf of Mr de Ruyter concerning the Eskom corruption allegations. It was received a day before Mr de Ruyter appeared before SCOPA.
• Overview of other Eskom-related cases investigated by the DPCI:
The DPCI was seized with 60 Eskom-related investigations. 27 cases were on the court roll (with 67 arrests). 12 cases were submitted for decision and 17 enquiry files were under investigation.
• Recent success and other media highlights of Eskom-related cases:
Lt Gen Lebeya gave an overview of several Eskom-related cases regularly discussed in the media, including instances of arrests, prosecutions etc.
(See attached for full presentation)
Briefing by Special Investigating Unit (SIU) on Eskom-related investigations
Adv Andy Mothibi, Head of the SIU, said that the presentation by the SIU maintained the same content that it had presented to the Committee in January, but it did indicate where there had been changes. Besides the focus on corruption, there was also a focus on maladministration and malpractice. The SIU had recommended systemic improvements to Eskom management.
Mr Leonard Lekgetho, Chief National Investigations Officer, SIU, took the Committee through the SIU presentation, particularly on the SIU investigations into the conflict of interest within Eskom.
(See attached for full presentation)
Adv Mothibi said the SIU continued to work closely with Eskom’s management to ensure that areas that the SIU had referred for Eskom’s action were executed and implemented. The SIU continued to collaborate with its colleagues in the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) to act speedily in areas where consequence management needed to be affected, in terms of freezing assets and ensuring that those assets were forfeited to the State.
He indicated that the SIU had continuous engagements with Mr de Ruyter (former CEO of Eskom) and other senior officials to give them an update on the SIU investigations. On several occasions, Mr de Ruyter had written to the SIU and requested the SIU to undertake specific investigations.
The allegations made by Mr de Ruyter were never brought to the attention of the SIU. After the publication of Mr de Ruyter's interview, the SIU made several attempts to contact Mr de Ruyter and he did not respond.
The SIU first became aware of the existence of an intelligence report on the morning before Mr de Ruyter was due to appear before SCOPA on 26 April 2023.
He concluded that it was in the interest of the SIU to seek clarifications and answers to certain questions regarding what had transpired. The SIU would need to understand who authorised the appointment of the private investigating company that the former CEO had referred to, and why Eskom would appoint a private investigating company when the allegation could have been referred to the SIU, the DPCI or the State Security Agency (SSA) for investigation.
If the report was presented to Eskom or to its accounting authority (I.e., the Eskom Board), the SIU would want to have access to that report to consider it for further investigation that could be required from a recovery perspective and probably for a maladministration and corruption perspective. The other issue was the question of how the private investigating company was paid. If the investigation was paid by a third party, then there was a needed to question the credentials thereof. If paid by Eskom, an important question was whether the payment of that private investigating company was budgeted for and/or authorised by the accounting authority. Further, whether the outcome of the private investigating company investigation was being acted upon, and if so, how it was acted upon and by whom. It had come to the SIU's attention that the report had found its way into the public. The SIU would need to investigate how the report found its way into the media.
Mr B Hadebe (ANC) said it was concerning that the presentation indicated that there was no specific information containing elements that would enable the SAPS to open criminal investigations, and that reference to criminal activity within and related to Eskom was always “generic, and more strategic of content, rather indicating trends”. He questioned whether the details expressed in Mr de Ruyter's interview contradicted the report, particularly on Mr de Ruyter’s answer to a question about the response of a high-level Government official on the evidence of corruption. He referred to Mr de Ruyter’s submission to SCOPA, wherein Mr de Ruyter said:
“On 5 July 2022, I attended a meeting with the Natjoints at the SAPS College in Pretoria, where I shared high-level concerns about corruption and theft in Eskom with the National Police Commissioner and his staff and offered to make available the intelligence to designated individuals. On the same date, I reported the findings to the shareholder representative, Minister Pravin Gordhan, and to the National Security Adviser, Dr Sydney Mufamadi”.
He asked if Mr de Ruyter submitted sufficient information to warrant immediate action and intervention by the SAPS, as expressed in Mr de Ruyter’s interview and his submission before SCOPA. He asked Gen Masemola if he had acted immediately and whether he had designated a Brigadier to the case. He asked whether Mr de Ruyter had made an indication that a particular high-level politician was involved in the allegations of corruption and what was done concerning that. He asked if the SAPS, DPCI and SIU were in possession of that information.
He said it appeared from the interview that that issue was raised before. The impression that was created was that law enforcement agencies had done nothing. He asked Adv Mothibi to confirm the date of when the SIU became aware of the intelligence report and the steps Mr de Ruyter took to ensure that such a report received the attention it deserved.
He asked if the information shared in the 4 June and 5 July 2022 meetings was shared verbally or in writing. He asked whether the information shared by Mr de Ruyter met all the reporting requirements, in terms of Section 34(1) of PRECCA. If the requirements of Section 34(1) were not met, he asked if the Committee could be briefed on what steps should have been taken to ensure that those who were entrusted in positions of leadership acted in the best interest of the State-owned entities.
Gen Masemola confirmed that no specific information would have enabled the SAPS to open criminal investigations following the 4 June and 5 July 2022 meetings. He said Mr de Ruyter had reported that there were general problems of procurement and management within Eskom, but he was not specific to say who had done what. Mr de Ruyter indicated that the matters had already been reported to the Hawks. Gen Masemola explained that he had followed up with the Head of the DPCI, who indicated that the DPCI was investigating a lot of cases on Eskom that related to corruption and procurement issues.
He recalled that Mr de Ruyter had said there was a problem with management at the power stations and that he had more information that he could share only with those investigating. In response, he told Mr de Ruyter that he could speak to the Hawks or, alternatively, to Brigadier Jaap Burger. Brigadier Burger was designated to meet with Mr de Ruyter. Gen Masemola said Brigadier Burger came back to him to say that the information was already with the Hawks, but he would further report it, thereafter Brigadier Burger gave an update that the case was no longer with the Hawks and that it was being investigated by the Investigative Directorate (ID).
He said that he decided to form a team that would support the Hawks and the ID in the investigations, specifically relating to access control and the damage to property at power stations. Hence, the establishment of a multidisciplinary team. He referred to Mr Hadebe’s question about whether the information met the requirements of Section 34(1) of PRECCA. He replied that the information was already available to the authorities, so it was not new, except that the SAPS identified elements that needed to be strengthened, particularly the access control at various power stations.
Mr Hadebe clarified that his question was specific to the allegations made by Mr de Ruyter. For instance, Mr de Ruyter mentioned that four highly organised cartels were killing people daily and a car dealer in the Mpumalanga highveld towns where one could park one's Maserati and exchange it for concealing tracking. He did not want to repeat all the allegations. He assumed that Gen Masemola was privy to the interview.
The Chairperson reiterated that Mr Hadebe’s question was whether Mr de Ruyter reported to the SAPS in specific detail or made generic statements to say there were problems. He said the fundamental concern was that the issues were reported, but no action was taken.
Gen Masemola replied that those details were never reported in the meetings between the SAPS and Mr de Ruyter, nor was it reported to him. The only specific information that Mr de Ruyter reported to him was the case of Mr Matshela Koko.
The Chairperson asked the DPCI to respond.
Lt Gen Lebeya referred to the question of whether Mr de Ruyter had met all the reporting requirements of Section 34(1), PRECCA. He confirmed that a report in terms of Section 34 had been made to the DPCI a day before Mr de Ruyter appeared before SCOPA. He said one had to be careful when publicly talking about whether the report complied with the requirements of Section 34, because there was already another case that was reported where there was a failure to comply with Section 34. He explained that somebody else had alleged that there was a failure to comply with Section 34. He would not like to answer whether it complied with the requirements, because those matters would go before the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to decide whether the content of the matters under discussion satisfied the NPA.
He said the information that came to the attention of the DPCI was what was contained in the report that had been submitted to the DPCI and was the same report that had been submitted to SCOPA. The only difference was the heading, where one indicated that the report was submitted to the DPCI and the other indicated that it was submitted to SCOPA. The contents of the report expressed the very same statement, which indicated the complainant’s fear of not wanting to divulge in a document form. He would not disclose how the DPCI had approached that investigation, but he confirmed that the DPCI was working on it. There would be a follow-up regarding affidavits, to ensure the information was provided under oath.
Adv Mothibi confirmed that the SIU was not in possession of the intelligence report allegedly provided by the former CEO.
The Chairperson said the Committee would deal with the issues of the intelligence report on the following day, when the Eskom Board appeared before the Committee.
Mr Hadebe said he understood that a report was submitted after Mr de Ruyter had left Eskom, but it seemed as if Mr de Ruyter submitted information while he was still the Group Chief Executive. There was an impression that immediately after the June and July 2022 meetings, Mr de Ruyter had submitted information in line with Section 34(1) of PRECCA, but it was not acted upon. He questioned whether the SAPS, DPCI and SIU were already aware of the allegations pertaining to the highly organised cartels and car dealers in Mpumalanga.
The Chairperson clarified that Mr Hadebe wanted to know if Mr de Ruyter had submitted any specific information in line with Section 34(1) of PRECCA while he was still Group Chief Executive. He said the issue was that the National Commissioner had explained that Brigadier Burger said the information was with the Hawks. He asked if Mr de Ruyter had submitted anything specific to the Hawks that should have been investigated while he was still Group Chief Executive.
Lt Gen Lebeya replied that the report that Mr de Ruyter had submitted a day before he appeared before SCOPA was the first report that had come to the attention of the DPCI.
Mr S Somyo (ANC) said the private investigation that Mr de Ruyter allegedly initiated was of pertinent interest. He asked the DPCI when it had become aware of the private investigation. He asked if it was acceptable for Mr de Ruyter to approach private funders to fund a private investigation, especially considering the standing of Eskom as an institution that was somewhat defined as a National key point. He said Mr de Ruyter had never been vetted but had indulged in matters of clandestine work and covert intelligence. He asked if it was of interest to the DPCI that Mr de Ruyter had indulged in such sensitive work, which dealt with matters of high security.
He appreciated the number of questions that the SIU had put forward in its presentation regarding the private investigation. He said in Mr de Ruyter’s appearance before SCOPA, he had confirmed that the authority to investigate was not obtained from the Eskom Board. He questioned the operational capability of security institutions, which ought to govern the security of entities like Eskom.
He noted that the SIU had confirmed that it did not have sight of the intelligence report; he was unsure if the same applied to the DPCI and the SAPS. However, he understood that there were subsequent actions that took place, such as arrests, that were somewhat labelled as the “subsequent gains” after that investigation. It was not only Mr de Ruyter who had suggested that, but several other people had claimed that the intelligence report was of value, because it had prompted action. He asked if it was a fact that the intelligence report's findings had prompted action to address Eskom’s inability to function and matters of corruption and sabotage.
Lt Gen Lebeya said most of Mr Somyo’s questions would be responded to by the SIU, particularly on the acquisition of the services for the private investigation. The SIU posed several questions which needed to be probed. Regarding criminal matters, the SIU would identify whether the acquisition contravened any law. When the SIU had finalised such processes, it would refer the matter to the NPA and the DPCI to investigate the possible criminal allegations identified in the process. He referred to the question of when the DPCI became aware of the intelligence report. He confirmed that the DPCI had received the same report submitted to SCOPA, which was compiled by the attorneys of Mr de Ruyter – which was not the private intelligence report. The DPCI had not had sight of the intelligence report.
He said the SIU would probe the question of the appointment of a private investigator who had not been vetted. Generally, the DPCI would find that a private investigation had been done as commissioned by the complainant. The DPCI would take an affidavit as the basic starting point. He suggested that the investigation would be treated as a source of information.
He referred to the question of whether the DPCI was lulled before the intelligence report became known and reiterated that the first report that the DPCI had received from Mr de Ruyter was the report he had submitted a day before he appeared before SCOPA. He explained that the DPCI had been dealing with Eskom-related investigations long before the intelligence report became known, and some investigations were conducted before Mr de Ruyter was appointed as Group Chief Executive. The DPCI had already effected several arrests and convictions prior to the private intelligence report.
The Chairperson told Lt Gen Lebeya that the statement submitted by Mr de Ruyter on 25 April 2023 spoke of cartels and syndicates, but the matters were not new. He recalled that in a previous SCOPA meeting with the SIU and DPCI, the SIU had indicated the presence of a syndicate, specifically in Mpumalanga. It was concerning to the Members of SCOPA that it appeared as if the DPCI was not already investigating the matters expressed in Mr de Ruyter’s statement.
Mr Somyo repeated his question on when the DPCI had become aware of the private investigation.
Lt Gen G Lebeya said the DPCI only became aware of the private investigation when it read the report that Mr de Ruyter had submitted a day before he appeared before SCOPA. There were also media articles which followed, indicating that there was a private investigation. The DPCI was currently working on 60 Eskom-related investigations, which were not based on the report Mr de Ruyter provided.
Adv Mothibi referred to Mr Somyo’s question about Mr de Ruyter’s approach in referring to a third party to fund the private investigation. He said the SIU would probe that question and provide feedback to SCOPA. The SIU had indicated that there were trends of organised crime in Eskom that pointed to syndicates. The SIU had made referrals to the NPA and the DPCI – some of those matters were part of the 60 Eskom-related cases that the DPCI was currently investigating. The DPCI was indeed investigating those matters. Once all the matters had been investigated, that would provide an understanding of the extent of how organised those criminals were, and what could be done to nip them in the bud. The SIU had identified the modus operandi, which clearly pointed to a syndicate approach and organised crime.
Ms B Van Minnen (DA) said it was a pity that the NPA was not part of the meeting, because the NPA had to shoulder the burden of getting the matters through the court system. She was concerned about the glacial nature of what was presented, that there were three different entities before the Committee, but when one looked at the individual cases, it appeared that progress was slow. In some instances, people were only referred to court ten years after the alleged offense, which was problematic. She asked if that was an indication of problems with investigations, or whether it was an indication of long-term intelligence operations.
She referred to the convictions as presented by the DPCI. She only noticed two direct custodial sentences. She questioned why a very serious conviction only resulted in a suspended sentence. Many of the highlighted matters were still ongoing, with people either out on bail or things had not yet been finalised. It appeared that if one unpacked what had been highlighted as victories, it indicated issues that may have emanated from the SAPS or the investigation and might indicate a problem with the NPA. She believed that what was currently happening with Eskom was probably the biggest challenge to South Africa.
She said Mr de Ruyter’s report to SCOPA and the DPCI contained very pointed and precise allegations, particularly regarding cartels, organised crime and syndicates. She could not obtain from the answers what the status of the investigation was. Out of the three entities before the Committee, she felt that the SIUs presentation had been the clearest. She asked what exactly had been done about the allegations made over the last ten months by Mr de Ruyter, that might emanate from the private investigation. She asked for clarity on whether there was in fact an investigation into the allegations.
Lt Gen Lebeya said the work of the investigation arm in that process was to secure the attendance of the accused persons in court. Once that was done, the DPCI working closely with the NPA, had to present the matter in court. Once the presiding officer decided whether the accused person was guilty of an offence, then it was for the two parties to argue. The NPA would usually argue for an aggravated type of sentence. The defence would argue that the convict deserved leniency. The ultimate decision rested with the presiding officer regarding the nature of the sentences.
He explained that when the DPCI reported on successes, it tried to show when the matter was reported and when it secured the attendance of the accused person in court, as well as what happened in between. There had been instances when an accused person had waited for the trial to be concluded for three years, which the court had considered when passing the sentence. He reiterated that the ultimate decision regarding the nature of the sentences was the discretion of the bench or the presiding officer.
He referred to the question of what the DPCI had done in response to the information it received. He said the investigation would deal with that. The DPCI would verify the information under oath. An analysis of the information suggested that more information was needed to be brought forward, which was what the DPCI was trying to achieve. If any accused persons were before court, the matters had to be proved beyond reasonable doubt.
Ms Van Minnen clarified that her question was about the status of investigations. She asked if there was a problem with the investigations that took long to be referred to court, because some cases had been ongoing for a long time. She asked for clarity on whether the DPCI was investigating the allegations.
Lt Gen Lebeya confirmed that the DPCI was currently working on three investigations linked to Mr de Ruyter. He explained that the case normally dictated the length of the investigation. There were simple cases where the DPCI only had one count to prove, whereas other cases may have more than 100 counts. In a case of 100 counts, each count had to be proved beyond reasonable doubt when it appeared before court. The investigations had to ensure sufficient evidence that could be presented before court beyond reasonable doubt.
Ms T Siweya (ANC) referred to the SAPS presentation. She assumed that the mentioned successes had nothing to do with the report Mr de Ruyter submitted a day before he appeared before the Committee. She noticed that Mr de Ruyter tended to offer information and then disappeared, without providing all the details. The Committee had taken a resolution to summon every person Mr de Ruyter had implicated to get an understanding.
She asked what steps the SAPS would take to ensure that Mr de Ruyter told the truth. She understood that the National Commissioner had delegated Brigadier Burger to obtain the information from Mr de Ruyter, but Mr de Ruyter had then indicated that he had shared the information with the Hawks. She said Mr de Ruyter was also lying in that context. She asked if Brigadier Burger had obtained that information from Mr de Ruyter under oath. If so, it would mean that Mr de Ruyter had lied to the SAPS, because it was discovered that Mr de Ruyter did not refer such information. She questioned if there were weaknesses in the relationship between the SAPS, DPCI and SIU.
She said she did not believe Mr de Ruyter when he said he was out of the Country. She asked what powers there were to protect Mr de Ruyter if it was decided to treat him as a whistleblower so that he could tell the truth about the corruption happening within Eskom. She referred to the last point on slide 57 of the SIU presentation, where it indicated, "In terms of Section 34 of the PRECCA, the former CEO as a person in a position of authority has a legal duty to report the suspicion of crime to the SAPS. The SAPS official to whom the report is made is required to provide an acknowledgement of receipt after such report was made. The former CEO should be called upon to provide evidence of such report and the required acknowledgement of receipt as proof of such report”. She asked that the SIU elaborate on the steps it would take to ensure that Mr de Ruyter told the truth in line with the prescript.
Gen Masemola said the SAPS, DPCI and SIU related quite well. He confirmed that the information that Mr de Ruyter had given to Brigadier Burger was not in the format of a statement. He noted that Brigadier Burger had informed him that he had forwarded the same information to the relevant authorities, which were the DPCI and the ID, who were aware of the information he had alluded to. The successes that were reported on slide 15 of the SAPS presentation related to the teams that were established and led by Lt Gen Peter Jacobs, which dealt with the proactive combatting of crime and disruptions, whereas the agencies such as the DPCI and ID dealt with the more serious organised crime.
The Chairperson asked if the information that Mr de Ruyter had given to Brigadier Burger was the same information he provided to SCOPA and the DPCI on 25 April 2023. He said Mr de Ruyter had made a variety of sweeping allegations in his interview that were of serious consequences. Thereafter the SAPS, DPCI and SIU tried to contact him to no avail, but the Committee found him. He reiterated that the issue of cartels was not new. The Committee was pertinently interested in what action had been taken following the serious allegations that had been made.
Mr Hadebe said it would be prudent for the Committee to list all the allegations so that the entities could respond accordingly.
The Chairperson said the entities did receive Mr de Ruyter’s statement. The responses needed to be specific to the issues raised, because the generic answers were not helpful.
Gen Masemola confirmed that Mr de Ruyter did share the information about Mr Matshela Koko with him, long before Mr de Ruyter had submitted a report to the Committee and DPCI. There were discussions with Mr de Ruyter regarding matters of crime within the environment of power stations, but nothing specific was mentioned about cartels. He delegated Brigadier Burger to meet with Mr de Ruyter, who then referred the matters to the DPCI and ID. He did not have the details of everything that Brigadier Burger had shared with the DPCI and ID.
Adv Mothibi said the last point on slide 57 of the SIU presentation was to indicate that if the former CEO did any report, it should have been in terms of Section 34 of PRECCA. One of the considerations was that an acknowledgement of receipt had to be made. He noted that Lt Gen G Lebeya had indicated that there were allegations of failure to comply with Section 34. From the side of the SIU specifically, no process in that regard would be followed through. However, it was clear that the DPCI was dealing with it; the entity could not pronounce more because investigations were underway.
Ms C Mkhonto (EFF) asked what steps Mr de Ruyter was expected to follow in reporting those matters. She asked for an update on the level of the investigations into those matters. She understood that it was a challenge if a person in a position of authority did not produce a statement under oath. She asked what role intelligence would play in the investigation process. She noted that the DPCI presentation spoke of the prevention of corruption. She said the entities before the Committee and Mr de Ruyter had failed dismally to prevent corruption.
She noted that the SIU presentation spoke of maladministration. She said after Mr de Ruyter had done the interview, most radio stations in Mpumalanga debated on the topic of whistleblowers. The people with information about what was happening at Eskom were low-level workers. The issue of sabotage was also mentioned while discussing the level of skills. She asked if the SAPS and DPCI were engaging with whistleblowers to obtain information, and if so, what had been the success.
Gen Masemola said the DPCI had been investigating cases in Mpumalanga that dealt with the syndicates the crime combatting teams had discovered on the ground. The SAPS was aware that there was a problem with the quality of coal that went through to Eskom. The SAPS had arrested several people supplying the wrong coal to Eskom. He confirmed that the SAPS did make use of whistleblowers. He said the SAPS intelligence team was integrated; it consisted of crime intelligence and the SSA within it.
Lt Gen Jacobs said that the SAPS intelligence team had uncovered the presence of criminal syndicates that were operating in the coal supply line. Coal that was en route to Eskom was diverted and dumped at illegal coal yards. The intelligence team had raided several illegal coal yards and identified their owners. For example, the team found that one farm of about 400 hectares contained 28 sub-coal yards, which were rented out to various people. The farm owner and the various coal yard operators were fined - the team was looking at their criminal operation as one.
The team had disrupted several criminal activities, where it identified syndicates in the fuel/oil mix. The SAPS referred some of those dockets to the DPCI and the NPA for decision-making. So, the process of identification of syndicates was far and beyond those terms that had been used, such as “cartels”. The team was across the value chain and in the distribution field, where it had seen syndicates involved in copper theft and the various scrap yards involved in those issues. The intelligence team had been quite active in identifying various syndicates across the whole value chain.
Lt Gen Lebeya said the DPCI had been working on several investigations relating to the allegations of sabotage. Those investigations had not emanated from what Mr de Ruyter had reported. The DPCI had been investigating those allegations, where evidence was needed to prove that the alleged sabotage was perpetuated by specific individuals. It was very challenging to get evidence to prove those allegations.
He explained that if one looked at the arrests made emanating from the investigation into cartels, then one would see that it was not individuals operating alone. There was also a tendency for people to label those criminal operations differently; some referred to it as “cartels, while others referred to it as “mafia” or “syndicates”. Those were generally referred to as organised criminal groupings, where each person had a specific role to play.
Mr A Lees (DA) recalled that Ms van Minnen had used the term “glacial” to refer to the matters that were presented, which was generally true. He mentioned the example of Markus Jooste and the Steinhoff scandal in 2017; a year later, only one transaction had been investigated. More than six years later, Mr Jooste remained enjoying his life. The pace at which those investigations moved was glacial. He singled out the SIU, because the SIU presentation showed action, results and consequences. He said he was astounded at the ease with which Gen Masemola had brushed away reports from Mr de Ruyter by saying there was no specific information for the SAPS to open criminal investigations.
It was the duty of the SAPS to investigate and to find evidence, and not wait on someone to provide evidence. He asked the Chairperson to assist in ensuring that the officials answered the Members’ questions clearly and to the point. He asked Gen Masemola whether any of the command structures under his leadership were investigating the involvement of politicians in the maleficence of Eskom. He noted that Gen Masemola said Brig Burger was delegated to find out what was going on.
He asked Gen Masemola if Brig Burger received information and reports from the private investigators.
Gen Masemola said Lt Gen Lebeya would respond to Mr Lees’ first question. On the second question, he replied that he did not brush aside what Mr de Ruyter had said. He had established a multidisciplinary team consisting of various departments to support the investigation by the DPCI, and Lt Gen Jacobs had alluded to what the SAPS had uncovered while doing its work. He confirmed that the SAPS had acted by finding information, investigating and launching crime combating operations within the areas of Middleburg and Emalahleni. Arrests had been executed and the DPCI continued to investigate some cases.
He was not aware of any structures that were currently investigating the involvement of politicians. He confirmed that Brig Burger did inform him that he had escalated information to the DPCI and the ID, which he had obtained from the private investigator. He did not get the information himself, but he was quite happy that Brig Burger did refer the information to the relevant authorities.
Mr Lees said Gen Masemola’s response implied that there was no surprise that there was a private investigation. It meant that the SAPS was aware that there had been a private investigation.
Gen Masemola said when Brig Burger had referred the information, the relevant authorities were already aware of what was said in the private investigation report. He did not get any report of what was exactly said.
The Chairperson clarified that the question was about the intelligence report by the private investigator. He asked Gen Masemola if the team he had established was briefed on the intelligence operation done by the private investigation. He asked that Gen Masemola clarify whether he was aware of the private investigation before it became publicly known.
Gen Masemola said he was aware that a private investigator was involved, but he was not aware of an intelligence operation. He could not specify, but he became aware that a private investigator was involved recently after he had established the multidisciplinary team.
The Chairperson asked when the team was established.
Gen Masemola said the team was appointed in July 2022.
The Chairperson said it meant that the SAPS was aware of the private investigation shortly after the team was appointed in July 2022, which was a material consideration of the SAPS’s turnaround time and response to the issues raised.
Gen Masemola confirmed that Brig Burger had informed him that he had consulted with a private investigator, but he had relayed the information to the relevant authorities. He was not aware of the content of what had been shared.
The Chairperson noted that the private investigation was an intelligence operation.
Ms A Beukes (ANC) said Section 34 of the PRECCA Act placed a duty on certain persons to report certain offences, and the failure to report was an offence. She asked for an update on the status of the investigation that Mr Mmusi Maimane had put forward against Mr de Ruyter, for the alleged failure to lodge a Section 34 report in terms of PRECCA. She referred to the report that Mr de Ruyter had submitted through his attorneys a day before he appeared before SCOPA and asked whether that report was in line with Section 34 of PRECCA, because Mr de Ruyter was no longer the CEO of Eskom. She asked if the DPCI was first waiting on formal affidavits before it investigated the allegations that had been made.
She said law enforcement was portrayed as weak, unreliable, not trustworthy and there was a sense that there was an unwillingness to investigate. She asked that the SAPS provide its opinion on that. She asked the SAPS if the establishment of the Energy Safety and Security Priority Committee emanated from the meetings that took place between the SAPS and Mr de Ruyter. She noted that prior to the meetings of 4 June and 5 July 2022, there were already 1660 Eskom-related cases reported. She asked about the response of management and the accounting officer on the impact that the investigations had on the Eskom-related crime, and whether prevention measures were implemented at Eskom.
The Chairperson reminded Lt Gen Lebeya about the question of whether the DPCI was investigating the involvement of politicians in the maleficence at Eskom.
Lt Gen Lebeya said the DPCI did not have information on the involvement of politicians in Eskom-related crimes. He confirmed that the case that Mr Maimane reported was currently under investigation. Certain people needed to be approached to get their side of the story, for the purpose of presenting the matter to the NPA. He said that was a dicey case, because it alleged that a certain individual had failed to report in terms of Section 34 PRECCA, but at the same time, the DPCI wanted to obtain a formal statement from that same certain individual.
He referred to the question of whether the report that Mr de Ruyter had submitted through his attorneys was in line with Section 34 of PRECCA. He said the DPCI did not want to pre-judge. The DPCI would investigate both matters, the failure to report and to ascertain whether what had been provided was in line with Section 34.
Gen Masemola said the SAPS had already been investigating Eskom-related cases prior to the meetings of 4 June and 5 July 2022, but it was not related to organised crime. Following the meetings of 4 June and 5 July 2022, he appointed Lt Gen Jacobs to undertake the establishment of the multidisciplinary team. The purpose was to have a central point where crime combatting and investigation within Eskom could be controlled from.
The Chairperson referred Gen Masemola to page 12 of Mr de Ruyter’s statement, which said,
“Given the broad spectrum and large scale of malfeasance in compliance with Section 34 of the Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act, Act 12 of 2004 ("PRECCA”), I had taken several steps regarding the alleged corruption, to report and cause same to be reported to law enforcement authorities and Government officials on the highest level. These steps include a meeting held on Saturday 4 June 2022 at Megawatt Park with senior police officials, including the National Police Commissioner, General Fannie Masemola and representatives of the State Security Agency, where I requested the assistance of both the SAPS and SSA to investigate corruption at Eskom, and to assist Eskom in combating crime. Following that meeting, a police brigadier (whose identity I leave to the SAPS to disclose for reasons of security) was designated by General Masemola to be the liaison with the intelligence operation. This officer had had full access to all the intelligence gathered and had stated to me that he had kept his line command informed”.
He said that the gravity of the situation at Eskom, especially the impact and consequences it had on the country was a national priority. He told Gen Masemola that the action of appointing Brig Burger and Lt Gen Jacobs to attend to the matters might have delegated the responsibility but not the accountability.
He said Gen Masemola was accountable for the way the serious allegations were handled and for ensuring that it led to a logical and legal investigative conclusion. He asked Gen Masemola whether he had met with Mr de Ruyter after the meeting of 5 July 2022. He was interested to know about the terms and conditions of the Natjoints Instruction 68 of 2022, because the operational interventions should have ensured that the issues that Mr de Ruyter had raised were on top of the agenda. The Committee was concerned that it did not get the impression from the SAPS that any progress had been made from June 2022. The collapse of Eskom at the hands of the syndicates was a major contributing factor to loadshedding. If the operational interventions of the SAPS were indeed working, then there should have been a reduction in criminal activities in the Eskom space and therefore a reduction in loadshedding, which had not happened. Instead, the military had to be deployed to Eskom power stations.
He recalled that in 2019 the President had made an announcement of sabotage at Eskom. That had subsequently been confirmed by Mr de Ruyter. He reiterated that the Committee did not get the impression that the law enforcement agencies had done anything to address the issues raised by Mr de Ruyter.
Gen Masemola said he took the matters very seriously. The allegations of maladministration, corruption and theft were not disregarded. The SAPS had specifically established a multidisciplinary team to address all the Eskom-related crimes. It was found that the DPCI and ID were already investigating cases of organised crime at Eskom. The multidisciplinary team had initially worked from Pretoria but later established an office at Megawatt Park. He explained that although he did not get into the detail of what information was given to Brig Burger, he was pleased that the information had been referred to the relevant authorities.
He did not agree that the SAPS had not done anything since the meeting in July 2022, because he had established the multidisciplinary team that had been hard at work in investigating and combatting Eskom-related crime in the areas of Mpumalanga. He noted that the Chairperson said there should have been a reduction in loadshedding if the operational interventions were working. He replied that the SAPS had done a lot but had not yet reached the desired level of convictions and prosecutions. The SAPS had disrupted the Eskom-related crime at power stations and coal yards. Unfortunately, investigating organised crime took a long time, but law enforcement agencies have done a lot.
Ms B Zibula (ANC) said the challenges that South Africa was facing with Eskom were a very sad situation. She asked Gen Masemola what measures he would take to ensure that he and Mr de Ruyter respected the law. She suggested that SCOPA should specify a timeframe to resolve the Eskom-related matters, because it had become a day-by-day loss.
Gen Masemola said he respected the law, which was why he acted when crime happened. The SAPS had identified the areas where Eskom-related crime was happening, and it was proactively engaged in operations and inspections. The SAPS referred the cases of organised crime to the relevant authority, which was the DPCI. The SAPS did acknowledge that loadshedding and Eskom-related matters were a national priority. The team, under the leadership of Lt Gen Jacobs, was working in the vulnerable areas daily.
Mr Hadebe said that it was expected of Gen Masemola to receive feedback and to have interest in ensuring that the team he had appointed was doing what they were delegated to do. Mr de Ruyter informed the Committee that the team Gen Masemola had established had full access to the intelligence gathered. It was almost a year later, but Gen Masemola had told the Committee that he was not privy to the private intelligence report.
The SIU approached Eskom to obtain the information, but they were told that the information was not with Eskom. It was clear that the information was between the SAPS and the DPCI, because Mr de Ruyter had informed the Committee that he had made such information available. It could not be true that Gen Masemola had appointed a team, but he did not know the status of the success, failures and challenges that were encountered by the team.
He found it concerning that Brig Burger would first refer information to other authorities without informing the National Commissioner of the details of what was uncovered. He asked Gen Masemola if the intelligence report was with Brigadier Burger or the DPCI. He recalled that Mr de Ruyter had explicitly informed the Committee that a senior politician was implicated in the corruption at Eskom, which was reported to the DPCI. It was concerning to hear that no senior politician was being investigated. He questioned if the information provided by Mr de Ruyter was true and accurate. He asked the DPCI to confirm whether it had received information of a corrupt senior politician.
Mr Somyo informed the Minister that the National Commissioner was not responding satisfactorily. He said that there was an indication that Gen Masemola had knowledge of the information contained in the report conducted through the private investigation. It seemed as if Mr de Ruyter was correct, that the SAPS did have access to the information, but they failed to act. It was confirmed that the information was shared with a senior official that the National Commissioner delegated.
He agreed with Mr Lees’s comment that it appeared as if Gen Masemola had brushed away substantive criminal allegations contained in the report. He asked the Minister if he had any knowledge of the intelligence report, and whether the Minister was aware of the actions taken by his team in response to the findings of that report.
Ms Siweya said Gen Masemola’s responses led to further questions about Mr de Ruyter’s allegations and how they were responded to. She questioned why Gen Masemola would delegate a senior official to obtain information, but he did not have knowledge of the details of that information.
She asked if the SAPS was taking any measures to find Mr de Ruyter and to provide him with the necessary security, so that he could appear as a whistleblower and account to South Africans about what was happening within Eskom.
Mr Lees said he had heard Gen Masemola speak about the success of the SAPS operations at Eskom. He questioned why Eskom needed the deployment of the army if it was reported that the SAPS operations had been a success. He asked the officials from the SAPS and the DPCI if Mr de Ruyter had informed any one of them that a senior politician was involved in corruption at Eskom. If yes, he questioned why no senior politician was being investigated.
The Chairperson referred to slide 7 of the SAPS presentation, where it said, “The Priority Committee and its functioning was mandated in terms of Natjoints Instruction 68 of 2022”. He said that it would be important for the Committee to know what was contained in the Natjoints mandate, so that it could benchmark whether there had been successes or not.
He informed the Minister that the Members had very little comfort in the work that had been done. He questioned if there was political will to deal with Eskom-related matters. He said there was a tendency to make bold and sweeping statements when discussing Eskom-related matters, with an expectation that something would follow. He personally disagreed with the Minister of Electricity, who had said that corruption was not a factor in Eskom’s performance. He said the law enforcement agencies, particularly the SAPS, were expected to lead the charge of Eskom-related crime. He referred to the example of Kusile power station built on top of a coal mine (i.e., New Largo) to easily access coal for electricity generation, but that did not happen. Instead, 700 trucks were used to transport coal to Kusile every day. This had created a perfect environment for criminality, because of the delays in mining at New Largo.
He reminded the Members that they were informed that the general manager at Tutuka power station walked around in a bulletproof vest and that his wife and children were under 24/7 security protection, even to school, because of the criminality that was taking place at Tutuka. Tutuka power station only operated at 15 –17 percent of its capacity. He said the President’s deployment of the army at Eskom’s power stations affirmed that law enforcement efforts had failed to protect the power stations. There was an absence of investigations which exists as a deterrent, to push back on the frontiers of corruption, which was an indictment on the SAPS.
Gen Masemola confirmed that he did not have the intelligence report. He explained that Brig Burger did not obtain an intelligence report, but he received information emanating from the private investigation, which he had referred to the investigative authorities, which was sufficient to him.
He said the SAPS would try to gain contact with Mr de Ruyter to do a security assessment, and to consider how it could take the matter forward while ensuring that Mr de Ruyter was secured. He had not received information from Mr de Ruyter or the DPCI regarding a senior politician involved in corruption at Eskom. The only information that Mr de Ruyter had shared with him was regarding Mr Matshela Koko, which was already before the DPCI.
He said that the Natjoints Instruction 68 of 2022 generally dealt with the approach to combatting crime. The first pillar is related to intelligence operations. The second pillar is related to the proactive and prevention mechanisms. The third pillar is related to the involvement of Special Forces in combatting crime. The fourth pillar is related to the investigations by detectives and the investigations of organised crime that the DPCI and other entities investigated.
Lt Gen Jacobs referred to the comment about the deployment of the SANDF and the inference that it reflected the failure of the SAPS. He replied that he had a different view on that, because it was a joint operation. He explained that once there was a situation of a complete breakdown of security arrangements at Eskom and its power stations, even though it had a huge budget, then it had to be approached from a perspective to look at investigations, which obviously took long. The second approach was to resort to target hardening, by enforcing more stringent security measures – the SANDF deployment was part of that approach. The third approach was to re-look and develop security systems within the institution. Therefore, Eskom was under review. The national key points inspectorate team had been sent to review Eskom’s security plans with clear recommendations for each power station, aiming to improve the security mechanisms.
He reiterated that the SANDF deployment was part of the broader security strategy and that a clear pattern of joint operations was executed. So, it should not reflect a failure on any department. It had to rather indicate that government was responding to the challenges of Eskom.
The Chairperson said that the deployment of the army was the last line of defence for any country. It should not have reached that point.
Lt Gen Lebeya said the report that Mr de Ruyter had submitted on 25 April 2022 did not implicate any politician. No other report was submitted to the DPCI from Mr de Ruyter.
Comments by the Minister of Police
Gen Cele said there was huge political will on Eskom-related matters. He informed the Committee that he was part of the delegation that the President invited to visit Tutuka power station. Two major technical issues arose from the meeting that were identified as issues that caused Eskom to suffer. The first issue was that experienced people had left Eskom, which resulted in the technical incapacity of the organisation. As discussions continued, another major concern arose, which was the issue of sabotage, and a few examples were made.
One of the examples highlighted was that truckloads of coal would be transported to “bogus” coal farms and exchanged for inferior coal. Minister Cele explained that in some instances, it was found that the coal was exchanged with black stones (i.e., stones that were painted black).
The sabotage became a technical matter, because the conveyer belts ended up grinding stones instead of coal, which resulted in the coal power having a short life and caused delays with maintenance. The second example highlighted was that Eskom’s power stations had no spare parts, although documents showed that money had been spent to procure spare parts.
The third example was the theft of diesel. Minister Cele explained that there had been instances when the diesel tankers would arrive at Eskom’s power plants at the expected time to confirm the receipt of delivery, but the truck drivers and employers did not offload the diesel - “doesn’t offload one drop”. The delegation was informed of the general manager at Tutuka power station, that wore a bulletproof vest to work and that bodyguards accompanied him and his family.
Minister Cele said he was a member of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC). The different Ministers that were members of the IMC had to pursue their specific line function, action and responses. It had become clear that the law enforcement agencies had to enforce more stringent efforts to respond to Eskom-related matters. Following the discussions in an Eskom-related meeting in January 2023 and a subsequent meeting with Eskom’s head of security, the matters of sabotage and other criminal activity became a primary concern, while the technical matters became a secondary concern. Eskom had spent about R2 billion on internal security matters, but one did not get a sense of what had been done.
He informed the Committee that he did engage with the National Commissioner on the criminality at Eskom, which further led to the establishment of the multidisciplinary team under the leadership of Lt Gen Jacobs.
The SAPS had been investigating Eskom-related crimes, such as coal and diesel theft, but the high-level investigations into organised crime were referred to the DPCI. He confirmed that the intelligence report by private investigators had only come to his attention following articles in the media. He had read that the investigation cost R50 million and was conducted by a company that a former National Commissioner, George Fivaz, led. The deployment of the army was to assist law enforcement in its operations, particularly to combat the armed robbery and theft of truckloads of coal and diesel. He agreed with the Members that it was unacceptable that the officials could not manage to contact Mr de Ruyer for more answers to the questions on the serious allegations that he had made. The information had to be pursued, especially when the source of information was doubted.
The Chairperson informed the Members that the Minister of Public Enterprises, Mr Pravin Gordhan, would appear before the Committee on 17 May 2023. The Committee would meet with the Eskom Board tomorrow.
He thanked the Minister of Police and all stakeholders that attended the meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
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