The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is expanding its investigations into corruption at Eskom as it goes beyond employees to contractors and private companies.
SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago told Newzroom Afrika that their investigations at Eskom are huge and constantly increasing in size as more is uncovered.
“When we started, we looked at some of the small investigations that related to employees,” Kganyago said.
“Later on, it expanded to include investigations of the coal contracts, and that then extended to include investigations of sabotage.”
The SIU has since expanded its investigations into the supply of inferior coal to Eskom, causing damage to some of the utility’s equipment to secure repair contracts.
Conveyor belts at several coal power stations were also damaged to secure tenders to transport coal via trucks from different mines.
The construction of Eskom’s power stations, particularly Medupi and Kusile, is also under investigation.
Several private companies have been prosecuted, with Swiss-German engineering firm ABB the most notable. ABB paid R1.6 billion back to Eskom following successful prosecution.
The SIU has turned away from investigating individuals to focus on processes and syndicates involved in supplying coal and diesel to Eskom.
“We do not investigate individuals, we look at processes, and if those processes lead us to you, then you will be investigated”, Kganyago said.
For example, when investigating irregular coal deliveries to power stations, it would be easy for law enforcement to arrest the truck driver. However, this does not root out the corrupt employees at the utility who enable corruption.
Kganyago’s comments echo those made by the Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa in an interview on eNCA.
“We are placing significant amounts of effort in ensuring that we protect these assets and defend the gains we have made,” Ramokgopa said.
The National Electricity Crisis Committee (Necom) has set aside a group of intelligence and police experts to focus on workstream six of the EAP, focusing solely on crime, corruption, and safety at Eskom.
This has resulted in over 1,300 cases of sabotage being reported and over 100 arrests being made.
However, we need to “go beyond the ordinary men to the main orchestrators and the brains behind the efforts to undermine electricity supply,” Ramokgopa said.
The destruction of infrastructure is not coincidental, but rather it is orchestrated. Necom has identified several links between acts of sabotage on Eskom infrastructure and the destruction of rail infrastructure in the country.
The minister said he “is more than confident that we will get to the bottom of this” because “if we do not solve this, all of our efforts will be undermined”.