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Eskom corruption crackdown

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By: Myles Illidge – My Broadband

Eskom is cracking down on corruption surrounding its operations and service providers, and using new technologies and systems to minimise opportunities for criminal activity.

Speaking to Newzroom Afrika, Eskom CEO Dan Marokane admitted that the power utility is “playing catch-up” in some aspects of the fight against corruption.

However, he said Eskom is identifying opportunities for malfeasance and closing these gaps.

“A lot of work has been done internally over the last year in particular to understand the modus operandi,” said Marokane.

“I think we’re playing catch-up in some instances, but you’ll see improvements. For example, our coal-handling systems are completely revamped.”

Much of the illicit activity Eskom has observed recently relates to coal and parts supply. Marokane says the power utility is stepping up controls surrounding these aspects of the generation business.

“We’re going to use a lot of technology to ensure that we get what we pay for and that we can cut out any opportunity for intervention between the source and the power stations,” he said.

Eskom chair Mteto Nyati recently revealed that the company was using Internet of Things technology from Vodacom’s IoT.nxt to help secure its coal supply chain.

“We’re paying a lot of attention in areas that are clearly indicating that they’ve been the playground of malfeasance by removing the latitude and freedoms that existed in those spaces,” said Marokane.

“We are strengthening controls and of course, we have to follow up with the aspect of consequence management.”

The power utility recently announced that an employee and service provider separately appeared in court for defrauding Eskom through illegal activity at Hendrina Power Station.

The pair had been granted bail of R30,000 each after being arrested for the alleged crime in 2023.

The employee allegedly stole five valve stems from the power station and gave them to the service provider, who then sold them back to Eskom when it required replacements.

Eskom said it suffered a financial loss of R667,500 due to the criminal activity.

“An internal investigation revealed that the Eskom employee had misused company resources without authorisation for their own personal gain and also falsified documents as the end-user,” said Eskom.

“The Eskom employee resigned while a disciplinary action was being instituted.”

Marokane said the power utility is introducing new technologies to minimise opportunities for similar criminal acts.

“We’re introducing new systems in terms of our warehouse management, where we’re using a lot of technology for our stores management as part of the controls,” he said.

“When we realise where the gaps are, we then look at solutions of improving on the controls.”

Marokane added that Eskom is working with several authorities that are “quite advanced in terms of the work they are doing in that space”.

In February 2024, former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter said corruption persists at Eskom and that those controlling corruption are still roaming free.

In his book Truth to Power: My Three Years Inside Eskompublished in May 2023, he also highlighted the extent of corruption at the state-owned power utility.

De Ruyter resigned from Eskom in December 2022 and left the utility with immediate effect in February 2023. His departure in 2023 came after an explosive interview with eNCA.

In the interview, he accused the ANC of corruption and enrichment through Eskom at the detriment of the South African public.

He elaborated further in his book, saying no item was too small to be used as a means of looting from the utility.

This included paying R26 for a R5 roll of single-ply toilet paper and ordering a mop for R238,000.

However, it goes deeper than that. Between 2012 and 2016, a fuel oil provider overcharged Eskom by a staggering R1.2 billion.

There were also instances where Eskom paid R400,000 for bearings valued at R110,000 and was billed R370,000 for a compressor refurbishment worth R40,000.

In one case, Eskom even paid R80,000 for a pair of knee guards that cost R320 at Builders Warehouse.

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