The Standing Committee on Public Accounts was scheduled to meet with Brigadier Jaap Burger and the National Commissioner of Police. The National Commissioner informed the Committee that he had instructed Brig Burger to attend the meeting. However, Brig Burger was not present at the meeting. Brig Burger had raised some safety concerns around appearing publicly before the Committee.
The Members of the Committee noted with concern that Brig Burger not being in the meeting was a problem. When the Committee had met with Mr De Ruyter, and the law enforcement agencies, there had been a constant reference to the work done by Brig Burger. The absence of Brig Burger would handicap the meeting and was highly problematic. The Committee was undertaking this exercise with the purpose of determining whether an inquiry was required into the Eskom matters. Brig Burger was an integral part of this assessment. The Committee could not proceed without getting Brig Burger in to answer the questions that were unclear.
The Chairperson said that he would find an opportunity to have a discussion with Brig Burger, with a team of Members, just to hear from him. The matter needed to be handled delicately, given its seriousness. It must not have an adverse outcome on anybody other than the criminals. A Committee team would be put together, and there would be a discussion with him to help the Committee understand his situation.
The Committee applauded the Special Investigating Unit for obtaining what has been termed the intelligence report commissioned by the former group chief executive officer of Eskom.
The Chairperson said that the Committee was meeting with the SAPS. The Committee had scheduled to meet with Brig Burger and the National Commissioner. The Chairperson welcomed the SAPS delegation, the Deputy Minister, and the SIU. He welcomed the Members of the Committee. The Committee was to receive a presentation. The Chairperson said he was not sure if he saw Brig Burger in the delegation of SAPS. The Chairperson handed over to the Deputy Minister.
Mr Cassel Mathale, Deputy Minister of Police, said that he was here with the National Commissioner and General Jacobs, who was closely attached to the operations at Eskom. This was a follow-up meeting. The previous engagement was led by the Minister. The Committee had then placed a request for SAPS to appear before it again. The National Commissioner would lead the briefing. The Deputy Minister passed on his sincere condolences at the passing of Ms Tina Joemat-Pettersson, the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Police. The National Commissioner would brief the Committee and speak on the issue of Brig Burger.
Absence of Brig Burger
Lieutenant General Sehlahle Fannie Masemola, National Commissioner, SAPS, said that SAPS would be providing an update on the work that it was doing. He discussed the issue of Brig Burger. He had directed Brig Burger to be present in the meeting. However, Brig Burger was not present at the meeting. Brig Burger had raised some concerns about appearing publicly. He had raised concerns about his security. He informed Brig Burger that he should come to the meeting. However, he was not in the meeting. The Department would take the necessary action. The Committee could decide whether it would use its own remedies to deal with the matter.
The Chairperson said that Brig Burger not being in the meeting was a problem. Whilst there were some issues that SAPS needed to raise, it was common cause that when the Committee met with Mr De Ruyter and the law enforcement agencies that there was a constant reference to the work done by Brig Burger. He was the common denominator of all the interactions. The Minister had even made reference to him. It seemed as if he was the man with the information. The absence of Brig Burger handicapped the meeting. He was the one who was supposed to be present. The National Commissioner had informed the Chairperson of issues raised by Brig Burger. The Chairperson had indicated that he should still appear and present those concerns himself. The Chairperson had suggested other interventions. Brig Burger was AWOL. The Chairperson considered it to be insubordination of the National Commissioner, as the National Commissioner had instructed Brig Burger to appear before the Committee. The absence of Brig Burger was highly problematic. The Committee was undertaking this exercise with the purpose of determining whether an inquiry was required into the Eskom matters. Brig Burger was an integral part of the assessment for the Committee to make a determination. The Chairperson found his absence very problematic.
Mr B Hadebe (ANC) said that it was concerning and disturbing if the National Commissioner had given the instruction for Brig Burger to be present, and Brig Burger was still not present. He understood Brig Burger’s predicament if he was concerned with his safety. The Committee did not want to compromise the safety of anyone or any investigations. However, what was more concerning was that the information was not given to the Committee. If Brig Burger had furnished all of the information to the National Commissioner, then the National Commissioner could have tabled that information before the Committee. What was of concern was the fact that the previous time SAPS appeared before the Committee it seemed not to have information after it had appointed Brig Burger. The National Commissioner had not been privy to all the necessary information to assist the Committee to conclude its business, in relation to the allegations concerning Eskom. The Committee was not necessarily insisting that Brig Burger appear before it. The Committee just wanted the information. The report that SAPS had given the Committee did not speak to the issues that the Committee wanted to deal with. The report fell short of giving the Committee the requisite information. The Committee wanted information. The information could be provided to the Committee via affidavit, to protect Brig Burger in order for him to continue with his work without any fear of being sabotaged. Did the National Commissioner have the requisite information that arose from SAPS’s previous engagement with the Committee? Without that requisite information, the Committee’s exercise would be futile. It would render the whole exercise useless.
Mr A Lees (DA) said that he understood the point that Mr Hadebe made about not compromising Brig Burger’s safety. He shared that view. However, he did not see how it applied in this case. Brig Burger’s name had been publicised. He was not convinced that was the motivation for Brig Burger not coming unless the security in Parliament was a problem and he feared an incident in Parliament. He was not sure that that reason was valid. The whole purpose of today’s meeting was to question Brig Burger, not to get a presentation from the National Commissioner or anyone else. The meeting was of little use. He looked at the presentation that SAPS had provided. There was nothing new there. One of the main issues with the presentation was that it was all reactive. There was no preventative action or pre-emptive intelligence reports. That was what should be emanating from the Fivaz report. There needed to be pre-emptive intelligence work being done to prevent criminal activity from happening in Eskom. There was nothing about that in this report. He suggested that Brig Burger must appear before the Committee. He had not heard any justification for Brig Burger to not appear before the Committee. Without Brig Burger’s input about the sequence of events, which he had been an integral part of, the Committee was hamstrung in making a decision. He proposed that the Committee summons Brig Burger to appear before it. He was certain that SAPS could provide protection to Brig Burger if there was a security threat. It was not possible to protect Brig Burger’s identity. His name had been out in the public domain. SAPS had put his name out in the public domain. If there was a safety risk, it was already in existence. The Committee could not proceed without getting Brig Burger in to answer the questions that seemed to be unclear. Mr Lees addressed questions to the National Commissioner. Did the National Commissioner give Brig Burger an instruction to appear before the Committee? Had the National Commissioner followed up this morning this a telephone call to find out where he was? Had Brig Burger informed the National Commissioner that he would not appear before the Committee no matter what?
Mr S Somyo (ANC) said that the National Commissioner had said Brig Burger had informed him of some predicament that prevented him from coming to the meeting. Brig Burger was answerable to the National Commissioner. That was very serious. The Committee could not take it likely. The National Commissioner had been informed by an employee in his organisation of certain fears. There should be procedural actions that ought to be followed. After the National Commissioner had been informed by Brig Burger, had the National Commissioner thought of invoking the necessary protocols for such kinds of instances? If Brig Burger had certain fears that something needed to be done, he did not hear that the National Commissioner had looked into the veracity of the issues raised by Brig Burger. Did the National Commissioner take the necessary steps to ensure that Brig Burger appeared in the meeting? The depth of the issues being dealt with was of such a nature that a brigadier of SAPS did not feel safe and could not appear before the Committee. SAPS needed to look into the available protocols to assist Brig Burger. If that were the situation, what would happen to a common citizen? There needed to be sensitivity around such matters. He asked the National Commissioner what steps had been taken to assist Brig Burger to attend the meeting.
The Chairperson said that the matter of safety had been raised yesterday afternoon. The Chairperson had informed the National Commissioner that security should be provided for Brig Burger and that he should appear and present his issues to the Committee. The Chairperson found it strange that SAPS did not know where Brig Burger was. That matter had been raised, and the Chairperson had responded to it by saying that SAPS should provide security. Brig Burger had been requested to appear and present his issue to the Committee. The problem was that it was not known where Brig Burger was. The National Commissioner had delegated Brig Burger to lead the investigations into these matters. It should have been elementary that SAPS provided security to Brig Burger.
Ms C Mkhonto (EFF) said that the pertinent issues around today’s discussion were not included in the presentation. This meant that the presence of Brig Burger was very important. The Committee also had a responsibility to protect the safety of State employees. The Committee understood that. Her problem was with the timing of the indication from Brig Burger that he was concerned about his safety. Was there a written and signed apology from Brig Burger that he was unable to attend the meeting? Either Brig Burger was really concerned about his safety, or he was just avoiding coming to account to the Committee. Things needed to be done on time. When did Brig Burger and the National Commissioner receive an invitation to this meeting? Brig Burger told the Chairperson a day before the meeting that he would not be attending because he was concerned about his safety. The timing was worrisome. The Committee needed to be respected. The Committee should be given a written and signed apology from Brig Burger. The Committee had been disrespected.
The Chairperson responded that the Committee had not received any apology from Brig Burger.
Ms B Van Minnen (DA) said that the report the Committee received today was a ‘rinse and repeat’ of what the Committee had received four weeks ago, when the Committee had met with the Minister and SAPS. It did not provide any additional information. The report was reactive. The Committee was concerned about the reports of ongoing, serious corruption within Eskom that needed intelligence-led policing. The report from Brig Burger was very important. There was quite a lot to unpack. The Committee was hearing that the police did not know where he was. The Committee had heard that excuse about Mr De Ruyter as well. If the Committee could find him, then she was sure that SAPS could find Brig Burger. With regard to Mr De Ruyter, there were serious allegations of him being poisoned and tracked but he appeared before the Committee online. She did not see why Brig Burger, if he was threatened, could not be afforded the same opportunities. The excuse that Brig Burger felt threatened to testify in Parliament, surrounded by SAPS, indicated a massive problem regarding SAPS’ ability to protect somebody. It also cast the most appalling aspersions on the Committee and Parliament, that he felt that his safety was at risk. This was also a precedent that the Committee did not want to start. The Committee needed to be able to interrogate people on issues that it was looking at. When people started refusing to appear because they did not feel safe in Parliament, the Committee needed to be very firm and summons them. Without Brig Burger’s report, either verbal or in writing, it was difficult for the Committee to proceed. She was incensed by the illusion that he would be unsafe to appear in Parliament.
Ms A Beukes (ANC) said that the purpose of this Committee was to get certain information and interrogate people. That was the reason why the Committee invited Brig Burger. There were procedures and processes available to Parliament, had the Committee known about this situation beforehand it could have discussed with the Department how to deal with the situation. She asked the National Commissioner if Brig Burger had sensitive information. Did the National Commissioner have a formal engagement with Brig Burger after the previous meeting with the Committee? After the engagement with the Chairperson yesterday about Brig Burger’s concerns, had the National Commissioner spoken to him and offered to assist him regarding his concerns?
Mr Hadebe said that he wanted to get clarity so that all the Members were on the same page. When there were issues raised by the National Commissioners about safety, Mr Hadebe thought that the safety and compromise were related to attaching a face to the name. The brigadier was the one responsible for investigating. Once his face was known out there, there might be consequences that followed when people saw him on the street. He did not think that the concern of safety was in relation to Brig Burger physically coming to Parliament today. His appearance in Parliament might compromise the work that Brig Burger was supposed to carry on and conclude. He wanted the Committee to deal with this matter with that understanding. He acknowledged the point about Brig Burger not doing the correct thing by sending the apology formally in writing. The Members should not be aloof to the fact that the threat was real. There were people who had lost loved ones due to extortion and corruption. This matter should not be taken lightly. The Members needed to be sympathetic and understanding of the concerns and fears of Brig Burger. He wanted to get clarity from the National Commissioner. Mr Hadebe was concerned about the unintended consequences of broadcasting the face of Brig Burger publicly. Brig Burger still needed to be able to pursue his work. It was more concerning that the presentation of the Department did not contain the relevant information. Was the National Commissioner privy to information that the Committee had asked for previously? The Committee could not insist on compromising the safety of a brigadier. If an officer of the law was feeling unsafe, that should ring serious alarm bells for the Committee.
Mr Lees said that if Mr Hadebe opened Facebook he would be able to see a picture of Brig Burger. Brig Burger’s appearance was not a secret.
The Chairperson said that Brig Burger’s concerns about security were not just about today. The Committee needed to establish whether that security had been provided. He noted that it was wrong that Brig Burger had not communicated. The bottom line was that the Committee needed to hear from him. He was a central figure in all of this. The Presidential Advisor, the Minister of Police, the National Commissioner, Gen Jacobs, and Mr De Ruyter had all made reference to Brig Burger. Everyone had referenced Brig Burger. It was elementary that that would invite threats or security concerns. The Chairperson noted that Eskom had been called a crime scene. However, Brig Burger was an officer of SAPS. He should have been provided with his own security, appeared before the Committee, and present his case. Everyone who had appeared before the Committee had faced their own threats. The Chairperson found it unacceptable that Brig Burger went AWOL. Brig Burger’s immediate supervisor, the National Commissioner, did not know where he was. That was a problem. That was the clarity that the Committee needed on this situation. The National Commissioner’s presentation was secondary to what the Committee wanted to hear. Having heard from everybody, the Committee needed to hear from Brig Burger. He asked the National Commissioner to respond to the issues raised by Members.
Lt Gen Masemola said that he had engaged with Brig Burger. He discussed the protocols around security. There were processes that SAPS was busy with in relation to what Brig Burger had indicated. Brig Burger’s issue was not the security between Pretoria and Cape Town. His issue was his appearance before the Committee. Hence, the message relayed yesterday was to ask the Chairperson if he could appear in-camera. The response from the Committee was that Brig Burger could not appear in-camera and had to state his matter before the Committee. The security of Brig Burger would be dealt with by the Department. It was only the Committee that could shield Brig Burger from the public. He had engaged with Brig Burger after the last Committee meeting. Brig Burger had provided feedback that he had met with Mr De Ruyter. Mr De Ruyter had given him information. However, Mr De Ruyter had not given him the Fivaz report. The information given to him was taken to one of the investigating bodies. The matter was being taken care of. He discussed what other information SAPS had regarding Eskom. SAPS had received reports. SAPS had discovered quite a lot. It knew what it was investigating. It knew where it was going. The various law enforcement entities knew where they were going. SAPS thought that it was on the right track. He noted that Brig Burger could be protected wherever he was working, through the processes within the Department. The main issue was after Brig Burger presented to the Committee, and the implications to his life.
The Chairperson said that he had sent a letter to the National Commissioner to facilitate the presence of Brig Burger. Brig Burger was not present. The Chairperson wanted confirmation that the National Commissioner had directed that Brig Burger appear before the Committee. Why was Brig Burger not here? Where was he? In light of the concerns Brig Burger had raised, had he not suffered a security breach? The Committee needed clarity on that. The Committee had indicated that it be Brig Burger and the National Commissioner who appear before it. Brig Burger was not here. The problematic statement was that the National Commissioner said that he did not know where Brig Burger was. Those were his opening remarks. The Chairperson appreciated that the National Commissioner said that the Department was facilitating the matters. The Committee needed assurance that Brig Burger was provided with security. The Chairperson was not comfortable with the National Commissioner saying that he did not know where Brig Burger was. The Committee was not under any illusions about what it was dealing with. The Committee was clear about what the problems were. Investigations should culminate in prosecutions. Investigations should culminate in consequence management. The missing link in providing clarity to the Committee was Brig Burger. There was nothing new in the presentation that SAPS had sent the Committee.
Deputy Minister Mathale said that he did not want to distract the meeting from the line the Chairperson had taken. The Department had received a letter that was addressed to the Minister, asking the Department to facilitate the presence of the National Commissioner to appear before the Committee. That was what the invitation said. The invitation said nothing beyond that. The Deputy Minister said that there was no correspondence that said the Department should bring Brig Burger to the Committee.
The Chairperson responded that he had written to the National Commissioner. The letter invited Brig Burger to appear before the Committee. The letter asked the National Commissioner to facilitate the presence of Brig Burger at the meeting. The Chairperson wanted that clarity.
Deputy Minister Mathale said that he had a letter that came from the Chairperson. It might be that when the Chairperson wrote to the National Commissioner, that the Department did not get sight of that letter. The Deputy Minister noted that Brig Burger should appear before the Committee and provide the information which was relevant to the Committee. It would not be difficult for the Committee to agree to Brig Burger’s request that he present in-camera. That would enable the Committee to take the processes forward.
Lt Gen Masemola said that he had directed Brig Burger to attend the meeting. He had spoken to Brig Burger yesterday. Brig Burger raised those concerns yesterday. He had not called him this morning, because he had expected him to be present. He had expected to find him at the meeting. That was what he meant when he said that he did not know where Brig Burger was. He had not called Brig Burger to find out where he was. He had made it clear to Brig Burger that he should attend the meeting, as required by the Committee.
The Chairperson said that that response was helpful to the Committee.
Mr Lees said that that was exactly the response that the Committee had been looking for. He assumed that when the National Commissioner informed Brig Burger to appear in the meeting that Brig Burger had agreed to come. Did Brig Burger say at that point that he would not be attending, despite the National Commissioner’s directive? It was clear that given the safety issues and the request for in-camera, Brig Burger had a lot of information that the Committee would find very useful. If that were not the case, there would not be a safety concern. Brig Burger must have information that would put his life in danger. This made it even more necessary for the Committee to interrogate Brig Burger, or at least gain sufficient information from him. The more the discussion carried on, the more he became concerned about the absence of Brig Burger to provide the necessary information. He was not in favour of in-camera presentations. That was a matter that the Committee would have to discuss. The information was clearly information of value to the Committee. He requested a response from the National Commissioner. When Brig Burger was directed to attend the meeting, did he accept he would come? Or did Brig Burger stay silent? Or did he say that he would not be coming?
Mr Hadebe said that he did not think it was correct to receive a report by word of mouth, especially of a matter of this magnitude. The National Commissioner said he met with Brig Burger and received a briefing. Was that the protocol for processing information of this magnitude? This was sensitive information. That was an informal engagement. The National Commissioner could not only receive verbal reports. He assumed that by now the National Commissioner would have met formally with Brig Burger. He assumed that by now Brig Burger would have taken the Commissioner through the necessary steps that had been taken since his appointment. He assumed that that report would have been in writing and furnished to the National Commissioner. The National Commissioner should have been appraised of all the challenges and successes in relation to this case, in writing. The only person close to the crime scene, in this case, was Brig Burger. The Committee should not fall into the trap of compromising any investigation. If there was a request for the Committee to engage with Brig Burger in-camera, he proposed that the Committee support that. The Committee was not here because of the limelight or public cameras. It was the information that the Committee wanted. How it was provided to the Committee was secondary. What the Committee wanted was the information. If that information was presented to the Committee in-camera in order for it to continue with its work then so be it. He noted that Brig Burger had a family. The Committee could not put anyone at risk of danger. He agreed with the Chairperson that it was out of order for a brigadier to not excuse himself in writing. He moved that the Committee could not continue with today’s session. The Committee should agree with the request by Brig Burger for him to appear in-camera, so that it could deal with these issues and work through these matters. He asked the National Commissioner to have a session with Brig Burger and get a proper briefing. This would assist the Committee in its work. The Committee was not trying to interfere with the operations of SAPS. The Committee wanted to pursue those who had been involved in the misappropriation of taxpayers’ money and who were contributing to South Africa experiencing load shedding. The Committee was in pursuit of the thugs and the criminals who had misappropriated taxpayers’ money. The Committee would interact with SAPS from time to time in order to tackle corruption. The Committee was not intending to interfere with SAPS’s operations and compromise its work. He asked for SAPS to assist the Committee to do its work.
Mr Somyo said that wherever Brig Burger was, he did not feel safe. Brig Burger might have significant information, and because of that, he did not want to appear before the Committee. What kind of message was being sent in terms of the police and Eskom-related matters? He asked what the National Commissioner thought about Brig Burger fearing for his safety and not appearing in the meeting. The brigadier was answerable to the National Commissioner for any action he takes. The National Commissioner was responsible for Brig Burger, for his presence and absence. What was happening with the police in relation to Eskom? This indicated that the Eskom matters were deep and heavy. The police should be the ones to apprehend those who breached the law, in relation to Eskom matters. How could the police be afraid when called to Parliament? Was the National Commissioner worried that it had reached this stage? That very senior individuals worked so much that they became so afraid to express themselves to resolve these kinds of issues, which led to crime and criminality. Was what Brig Burger did of such an extreme nature that it was unknown to the National Commissioner? What was happening within SAPS? Was this confirmation of the fact that Mr De Ruyter did not trust the police? Has it reached that stage? Did this confirm what Mr De Ruyter had said? He asked the National Commissioner to make him and South Africans comfortable that things were under control. The Committee needed to be assured that Brig Burger’s concerns could be attended to. He discussed meeting in-camera. Meeting in-camera meant that the Committee had to meet in private, where there was nobody else except those who were in Parliament. The only concern of the Committee now was meeting in-camera. He really wanted to know from the National Commissioner what was happening.
Ms Mkhonto said that the request of the Committee today was that it needed to be given that information. How the Committee received that information could be discussed with the National Commissioner. The Committee could not set a precedent where it invited people to make presentations and they did not attend. In the future, the Committee would then be given various reasons by different people why they would not attend Committee meetings and provide information because they were afraid of certain things. The Committee needed this information. How the Committee received the information needed to be discussed. Brig Burger needed to appear before the Committee, Members needed to be allowed to ask him questions and he should respond. The issue of safety and other matters could be addressed somehow. The bottom line was that the Committee needed this information. Brig Burger needed to appear before the Committee and respond to the issues that the Members wanted to know from him. Brig Burger had to come to the Committee. The Committee just wanted answers. The Committee needed to be given answers.
Ms Van Minnen said that she agreed with Mr Somyo. No one seemed concerned that these were very serious allegations against people at Eskom. There were allegations of very senior people being involved. There was a former GCEO who had gone abroad after allegedly being poisoned. There was now a brigadier who was tasked to investigate the matters, who was now fearing for his life. How did it reach a point where the power utility of the country, which was facing very serious challenges to perform, spawned all of this? There seemed to be a definite reluctance from SAPS, the Hawks, and the board to investigate. This seemed to be the most enormous coverup and reluctance to do anything about it. That was really problematic. The Committee needed to ask how it was normalised that people were afraid to deal with this issue. That was not going to take the country anywhere.
Mr Lees said that the job of the police was to prosecute and to make sure that people saw the consequences of their actions. It should be a public matter. The ramifications of in-camera were not fully evident. In-camera did not just mean that the Members sat in secret and did the interview. It also meant that the Members could not do anything with what came out of that interview. It could not go into the public domain. The Committee might as well not do it then. He had grave reservations about meeting in-camera. He wanted the National Commissioner to answer his questions. Did Brig Burger, after being directed to appear before the Committee, agree to come? If not, did he say that he was not coming? Did the National Commissioner then accept that he was not coming?
The Chairperson said that he would make a proposal so that the Committee could bring the matter to a logical process. The Committee needed to hear from Brig Burger. There had been a lot of reference to the intelligence report, the Fivaz report. The intelligence gathering at Eskom was another piece of the puzzle. He had a discussion with Adv Mothibi, because the SIU was to also pursue that report and find it. Adv Mothibi would provide an update on the pursuit of that particular report.
Lt Gen Masemola responded that he had engaged with Brig Burger to attend the meeting. When Brig Burger raised concerns, that was when he engaged with the Committee Secretary. He took it that Brig Burger was going to be present in the meeting. Brig Burger said that he had not felt like coming to the meeting if it was not in-camera. He discussed the investigations around Eskom. SAPS was involved with various entities, from detectives, DPCI, and ID were all involved in those investigations. SAPS had all hands on deck in the investigation of the Eskom matters. The Eskom space was very toxic. Everything that was received from Eskom could not be taken at face value. He noted that there were different groupings or syndicates which gave various information to SAPS. These different syndicates came with various smear campaigns. Not everything could be taken at face value and acted on. SAPS had to thoroughly go and check whether the information was correct. It might just be people pushing a different angle. The intelligence community was involved and was assisting SAPS. Brig Burger was not the only investigator. SAPS had various teams of investigators, at various levels, dealing with the matters of Eskom. SAPS was not afraid of tackling Eskom. SAPS was tackling Eskom from various angles, and it would make inroads. It was unfortunate that the Eskom space was contested. He acknowledged that load shedding was a national crisis. He noted that law enforcement was just one angle in resolving the Eskom problem. There were other deep-rooted problems in the system of Eskom that needed to be addressed from other angles. Law enforcement was just one element. SAPS collected intelligence. It investigated. It knew who it was investigating. If someone was on SAPS’s radar, it investigated. It did not matter who the person was. The teams in the field knew who they were investigating. He guaranteed the Committee and South Africans that law enforcement agencies were on the right track. He emphasised that this was a contested space. There was a lot that would be thrown out in the media. Law enforcement was doing its best. He noted the management and systems problems within Eskom. SAPS was not scared. It would reach a stage where people were prosecuted.
Adv Andy Mothibi, Head and Chief Executive, SIU, said that in his last appearance on this subject, certain questions were raised. The SIU had indicated that it would put efforts to ensure that it obtained the intelligence report. The SIU had done so. The investigating team had reached out to the company that had been appointed to conduct the investigation. That was the only credible source. The SIU had reached out to George Fivaz Forensic and Risk, which was the company that had conducted the investigation. He confirmed that the SIU had obtained the report. There were about 1482 pages. It was constituted of about 13 sub-reports. The SIU was currently going through the report. It was being subjected to the SIU investigation methodology and protocols. The report would inform further investigations of the SIU and referrals, based on the outcomes reached by the SIU. The SIU was acutely aware that it needed to deal with this report as urgently as possible to determine the course of action. That course of action should bear in mind that this report could possibly enable the required outcomes or investigations by the SIU, South African Police, DPCI, or ID. It was hoped the report could be used to inform proactive and prevention measures, to fight the scourge of corruption at Eskom. There was the serious maladministration and malpractice part, where the SIU was investigating how this report was commissioned. Having listened to the Eskom Board and Minister Gordhan, the SIU still needed to answer those questions raised by the Committee. The SIU would deal with that part and pronounce on it. The other part was that the report should be worked through so that it enabled the fight against corruption, and identification of syndicates so that corruption and organised crime could be dealt with, which seemed to have festered so much at Eskom. The SIU would be able to deal with the matter on that basis. It would then give feedback in its next appearance. In the meantime, it would ensure that having gone through it that it would then interact with other law enforcement agencies in the forum that they all participated in.
The Chairperson thanked Adv Mothibi for the update. It was useful for the Committee. He appreciated the intervention taken by the SIU to get the report. They took the process forward in helping to unpack what was contained in the report.
Mr Lees thanked the SIU for getting going on the report. He trusted that SAPS also had the report now. The National Commissioner indicated that there were a number of entities operating within this sphere, and some were good, and some were bad. He asked if the National Commissioner had tried to commission the services of other people, such as Gen Booysen. What came of that?
Mr Hadebe applauded the SIU for moving swiftly. It should raise alarm bells to SAPS that it took the SIU to get the report which SAPS did not have. It had been indicated that even the brigadier did not have the report. He told the Deputy Minister it should raise serious alarm bells that it took the SIU to get the report, which SAPS did not have. He asked Adv Mothibi to pursue the SMS and WhatsApp texts that seemed to implicate the Head of Security at Eskom. He asked the SIU to pursue that matter as well. Every day there seemed to be new stories. It provided a sense of discomfort for the Committee that was pursuing this matter.
Lt Gen Masemola said that he had engaged with Gen Booysen, to involve him. However, it was impossible to have Gen Booysen because of some other interests. SAPS had not gone further on that. SAPS had established its internal team which was doing the job.
Deputy Minister Mathale confirmed that the National Head of the Hawks, Lt Gen Godfrey Lebeya, had received the report. That had been personally confirmed to the Deputy Minister. SAPS was doing its best. He was certain that the electricity challenge at Eskom would be resolved. The government was determined to address that. SAPS was just one component of a broader approach to dealing with these issues. Issues of corruption in Eskom were being dealt with. SAPS had been dealing with it before this matter had come to the surface. SAPS would continue to do so. The Department was not going to be an obstacle to the Committee getting the necessary information that would enable the Committee to execute its work. Irrespective of who was involved in these issues, the law would take its course. The police would not be selective in their work. There would be no interference from anybody which would prevent the police from doing what was necessary.
Adv Mothibi responded to the question from Mr Hadebe. The investigating team had been receiving information, including the number of SMSs that had been referred to. Gen Jacobs had confirmed that SAPS had also received the SMSs. The SIU would ensure that they were dealt with so that they produced the necessary outcomes and consequences.
Mr Somyo thanked the Deputy Minister for confirming that the Hawks had the report.
The Chairperson said that the issue of Brig Burger, who was the subject of the meeting, should not be lost in its material facets. This included, but was not limited to, the security concerns that he had raised. When this issue was raised, his mind raced to what had happened to Lt Colonel Charl Kinnear. That was why it was necessary for SAPS to rather err on the side of caution. Brig Burger must be provided with the security that he required. Whether the threats had been assessed or not, whether there were merits or no merits. The fact that these concerns were raised, arising out of the Committee’s process, the Committee wanted to err on the side of caution. The Departmental interventions for Brig Burger’s security, needed to take top priority. It must not be forgotten how the country landed in this situation. The President had returned from a trip abroad and cut it short. After assessing some of the power stations, the President informed the nation that there had been sabotage at Eskom, as far back as 2019. What followed after that was a series of allegations, which culminated in the CEO of Eskom having an interview publicly and raising a number of issues. What was a concern for the Committee was that when these pertinent matters were raised, the Committee did not have comfort that the matters received the attention that they deserved. Unless SAPS shifted gear, he was worried. There were no other police services in the country other than SAPS. The SIU had confirmed that there was an organised crime syndicate, operating in three streams, operating in Eskom. The manager at Tutuka was walking around in a bulletproof vest. He, his wife, and his children travelled with security. All of these things were a fundamental reality of the problem at Eskom. Two senior politicians, or Ministers, had been sighted. Unless there was action, there was political interference at play. He agreed with the National Commissioner that things should not be taken at face value. These things demand an investigation. Have the investigations taken place? Some of these issues were over a year old from when they had been raised. Yes, the Committee was not receiving any confidence from SAPS. The central figure to all of this, Brig Burger, raised an issue and said that he did not feel safe. The turnaround time for investigations was very slow, if not non-existent. There were a number of allegations from various quarters. The Chairperson was certain that had the Committee not pursued this matter, there would have not been any movement. Why must SAPS be pushed on a matter of national security? He warned about the grid collapsing because of the criminality going on in Eskom. The character and strength of SAPS would be tested. What he found peculiar was that Gen Jacobs was investigating Eskom matters, and he was present in the meeting. The concern was about the content and substance of what Brig Burger knew. The Committee would rather err on the side of caution. He was in full agreement with the concerns that the Members had raised. The Chairperson wanted to engage with Brig Burger, through the Parliamentary legal team. Brig Burger could put down what his issues were, and then that report would be sent to the Members. This would enable the Committee to decide how to proceed regarding Brig Burger’s appearance. The Committee should hear Brig Burger’s concerns from him directly. Then the Committee would take the process forward. Parliament’s legal team could then advise because there was a proposal on the table for an in-camera meeting. Parliament’s legal team could provide information on what the consequences and implications would be of an in-camera. The ultimate aim was for the Committee to engage with Brig Burger. The Committee needed to talk to him. The Committee needed Brig Burger to complete the chain of events of what had happened. The Committee would then schedule to meet, even if it was during the recess period, on this matter. The oversight of Eskom may shed some light for the Committee on these issues. Something was rotten in South Africa. That rot was Eskom. The Committee needed to hear from Brig Burger what were his issues. The Chairperson told the National Commissioner that the safety of Brig Burger was a matter of priority.
Mr Lees said that he agreed with the Chairperson’s proposal. He encouraged that there be an engagement with Brig Burger. He suspected that security was not the main and only reason that Brig Burger was not in the meeting. Then the Committee could move forward on whether in-camera would or would not work.
The Chairperson said that he would find an opportunity to have a discussion with Brig Burger, with a team of Members, just to hear from him. The matter needed to be handled delicately, given its seriousness. It must not have an adverse outcome on anybody other than the criminals. A Committee team would be put together, and there would be a discussion with him to help the Committee understand his situation. The engagement would be to help the Committee craft a direction. The Chairperson told the National Commissioner that he should take the presentation as read. The Committee would interact with it at a later stage. He noted that the SIU and the Hawks now had the intelligence report. The pooling and sharing of resources were very important, to ensure meaningful investigations and successful prosecutions. The Brig Burger saga was a confirmation of the problem.
Mr Somyo said that he supported the Chairperson’s proposal. He noted that Adv Mothibi had confirmed that the SIU was in possession of the intelligence report.
The Chairperson said that the information contained in the intelligence report needed to be tested. If there was merit to it, it needed to move on to the next step. The Chairperson thanked the Deputy Minister. The Committee was primarily concerned with the issues raised by the former CEO. The other processes of investigations of SAPS needed to continue without interruption. What the CEO had raised, as a person of authority in office, had drawn the attention of the Committee. A CEO cannot make allegations, and then those allegations are not pursued. There were other outstanding matters that the Committee had to deal with Mr De Ruyter. The issues that Mr De Ruyter had raised required attention. The Chairperson thanked the Deputy Minister, the National Commissioner, and Adv Mothibi for attending the meeting. The Chairperson thanked the Members.
Deputy Minister Mathale said that investigations had been going on long before the CEO made an appearance on TV. The Department appreciated the role that the Committee was playing, to contribute to improving governance in the country. Difficult questions would be asked by the Committee and the Department had an obligation to respond. SAPS would only become better by interacting with the Committee in this way. SAPS would continue to do the work it had been doing. SAPS would get to the bottom of what had transpired in the Eskom space to ensure it did not reoccur. SAPS would work on the report as it did with any information that came to its attention. If a CEO, or former CEO, raised allegations then the gravity of those allegations needed to be taken seriously to get to the truth of what had transpired. SAPS looked forward to continued engagement with the Committee, and other Portfolio Committees of Parliament. Parliament was where oversight was exercised.
The meeting was adjourned.
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