Eskom trying to hide corruption by targeting whistleblowers – expert

Eskom has been accused of intimidating whistleblowers and employees to prevent them from reporting corruption at the utility that involves senior executives.

City Press recently reported that Eskom has launched an investigation to expose whistleblowers who revealed information about a controversial R500 million security contract awarded to Fidelity. 

Fidelity was granted a three-month contract at the behest of Eskom’s former head of security, Karen Pillay. The utility has since suspended her. 

The Association of Private Security Owners of South Africa (Tapsosa) initially alleged that Eskom flouted procurement processes in awarding a R500 million contract over three months to Fidelity. 

They are demanding an inquiry into the tender processes Eskom followed. Tapsosa escalated its demands to the relevant Parliamentary oversight committees and Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa.

The organisation called for people behind the contract, including Pillay, former CEO Andre de Ruyter, and former COO Jan Oberholzer, to be held accountable.

They also want an investigation into how the process took place and how an emergency procurement process was used to pick one provider – Fidelity Security Group.

Fidelity was handpicked for the contract as the tender was deemed an emergency and did not have to go through a transparent, competitive bidding process. 

The contract covers Eskom generation units and their transmission infrastructure. It included land and air support with helicopter and tactical drone surveillance capabilities, specialised armoured personnel carriers, tactical intervention units, access and crowd control.

Eskom confirmed that the services were awarded in line with all its procurement procedures and the National Treasury directives for emergency services procurement.

Fidelity said it will cooperate with any inquiry into the contract and is confident all due processes were followed.

City Press reported that Eskom has since appointed a forensic audit firm to investigate allegations against the senior manager, which arose from Pillay’s preliminary investigation and allegations from recent newspaper articles. 

The publication reported that Eskom insiders believe the investigation attempts to deflect attention from the ongoing Special Investigating Unit (SIU) probe into Eskom executives. 

“This is a witch-hunt against the people responsible for exposing the Fidelity contract. The focus shifted away from the people involved in the Fidelity contract to the people who saw the wrong that was happening,” an Eskom employee said. 

Eskom intimidating employees

Calvin Rafadi
Crime expert and forensic investigator Calvin Rafadi

Crime expert and forensic investigator Calvin Rafadi told Newzroom Afrika that “this shows there are serious problems at Eskom and that they are trying to hide corruption by intimidating whistleblowers”.

This belies calls by the utility for those with information about corruption at the utility to come forward and present evidence to authorities. The opposite is true, said Rafadi. 

“Some whistleblowers call us scared of taking information to the forensic department or authorities. They protect one another at Eskom.”

If the senior manager under investigation goes down, Rafadi said many other managers would go down with them. 

“They will make sure that this case does not see the light of day.”

Even if whistleblowers turned to private investigators, there is not much they can do. Private investigators are limited to investigating matters related to the Public Finances Management Act, which governs the tender process. 

Suppose private investigators want to follow the money trail. In that case, Rafadi said, a criminal case must be opened for them to access bank statements, phone records, and any real evidence. 

Police Minister Bheki Cele told Parliament that this matter is under investigation, and the suspended manager has been on the police’s radar for some time. However, no findings have been made public.


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