Eskom ‘shadow economy’ stealing billions a month

An entire economy of organised crime cartels operates in the shadow of Eskom, stealing billions of rands a month from the utility and taxpayers.

This was revealed by former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter, who told the Business Day Spotlight podcast that this “shadow economy” is tolerated and may even be supported by the government and law enforcement agencies. 

“It appears that it is, if not explicitly condoned, then at least tolerated, and we simply have to get to grips with the existence of this shadow economy,” he said. 

“It seems to me that there are senior people, whether that be in politics or in the cartels or both, that are out there and still continue to benefit from what is going on.”

He said that he has some ideas about the senior people behind the criminal cartels but would not elaborate further. 

De Ruyter said his estimate of R1 billion a month being stolen from Eskom during his tenure may have been conservative. 

“The amount of money that is available in this shadow economy, in this criminal enterprise, is so large that they can buy influence. They can buy immunity. At the end of the day, they can buy the direction of policy.”

De Ruyter said that these criminal elements are delaying the transition away from coal and to cheaper, greener technologies out of fear that they will lose this chance to enrich themselves. 

Earlier this year, before leaving Eskom, De Ruyter estimated that around R1 billion is stolen every month from the power utility.

“We know of at least four organised crime cartels operating in Mpumalanga operating in Eskom,” he told My Guest Tonight with Annika Larsen earlier this year. 

“Some of them also have an interest in Transnet, which we see in our inability to use rail to get coal to the Majuba power station.”

The four criminal cartels are sophisticated, well-organised, and even adopted language associated with the Mafia, like captains and soldiers.

“They have a hit squad of between sixty and seventy highly trained and well-armed people. People get assassinated in Mpumalanga.”

“The media may have become desensitised to the killings, but pretty much every week, there is an assassination.”

He said it shows that crime and corruption at Eskom are deeply entrenched and highly organised.

The criminal networks have extended their tentacles to many Eskom workers who sabotage and vandalise power stations on their behalf.

“The person who committed the sabotage is not the kingpin. It is an ordinary employee, and you cannot post policemen to look over everyone’s shoulder,” he said.


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