New Eskom acting CEO Calib Cassim’s head is on the block for his alleged involvement in the controversial Fidelity security contract.
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.
Former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter and former COO Jan Oberholzer allegedly supported a deviation from their payment policy to facilitate the security contract.
City Press previously reported that Pillay wrote a letter to then Eskom CFO Calib Cassim, requesting permission to deviate from the utility’s payment policy.
The deviation was needed to fast-track invoice payments to Fidelity amounting to more than R250 million.
Eskom’s payment policy states that any contract valued at R100 million or more will be paid in 60 days. Pillay requested the payments be made within 7 to 14 days.
The letter showed that Oberholzer and De Rutyer supported the deviation request by Pillay before Cassim approved it.
De Ruyter also supported Pillay’s initiation of the three-month emergency contract with Fidelity without inviting any other company to submit bids for the work.
Eskom insiders told City Press that those who supported the payment deviations, including De Rutyer and Oberholzer, “engineered the Fidelity contract”.
Cassim to be held responsible
City Press has now reported that Eskom’s board is turning its attention to Cassim’s role in the emergency security contract awarded to the Fidelity Services Group.
The newspaper also revealed that a criminal investigation into Pillay is underway for her role in the controversial contract.
This followed after the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) confirmed the contract had been awarded to without the approval of the Eskom board.
SIU head Andy Mothibi said it wasn’t possible for this type of mismanagement and fraud at Eskom to be carried out by a single person.
“This was a self-created emergency in which even proper Public Finance Management Act procedures were manipulated, resulting in the selection of Fidelity as a supplier,” he said.
Mothibi added that Cassim must be held liable for the damage incurred due to the mismanagement of public funds.
“It has ultimately resulted in bad financial statements of the state-owned enterprise. That’s tantamount to fraud and racketeering.”
Eskom spokesperson Daphne Mokwena said the matter of the Fidelity Services Group contract is still under investigation.
“Eskom is also cooperating with the relevant authorities. It isn’t in a position to comment at this stage,” she said.
Fidelity Services Group CEO Wahl Bartmann responds
Fidelity Services Group CEO Wahl Bartmann confirmed the group had been awarded a three-month emergency contract with Eskom.
The contract was for a comprehensive security solution consisting of a national deployment to cover Generations and Transmissions.
Bartmann dismissed the R500 million figure bandied around, saying the total contract value was approximately R250 million.
During this period, Fidelity Services Group and other service providers were already supplying other services to Eskom.
Bartmann said the contract was awarded based on their experience managing specialised services within the current national critical infrastructure industry and its national footprint.
It included land and air support with helicopter and tactical drone surveillance capabilities, specialised armoured personnel carriers, tactical intervention units, access and crowd control.
Fidelity’s Business centre, as well as National Command centres, were used for operational compliance and execution.
Contrary to Media statements and reports, Fidelity Services Group was not requested or provided intelligence services to Eskom.