Former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter’s private investigation into corruption at Eskom has come under fire for not following due process, undermining the credibility of anti-corruption efforts, and being a waste of resources.
De Ruyter approached Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) to help fund a “risk assessment into criminal activity and sabotage at the utility”.
The private investigation was intended to complement law enforcement investigations at the utility.
However, the report by George Fivaz Forensic and Risk “contained no facts” and was “effectively worthless”, according to reports by journalist Jacques Pauw.
The investigation also relied on evidence collected by a former Apartheid operative, Tony Oosthuizen.
According to Pauw, Oosthuizen holds racist views and boasted to him about committing murders during the Apartheid era.
The R50 million investigation, funded by BLSA, which contributed R18 million, used “rogue, half-baked intelligence dossiers” to form the basis of “wild and uncorroborated allegations”.
De Ruyter made such allegations during an interview on eNCA, where he accused the ANC of using Eskom as a feeding trough and alleged that two ministers were involved in corruption at the utility.
During a hearing with Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), De Ruyter refused to name the ministers involved and give further details about corruption at Eskom.
The report produced by the private investigation was summarily discredited as useless in the fight against corruption at the utility.
Political analyst Khaya Sithole called the botched investigation a reputational mess for BLSA, Andre de Ruyter and Eskom in an interview on 702 with Bruce Whitfield.
The means through which it was conducted was not justified by the ends as it produced evidence that was not admissible in court.
Despite the state not fulfilling its obligations to investigate corruption at Eskom, BLSA and De Ruyter were not justified in keeping the investigation hidden from the Eskom board.
De Ruyter, as Eskom CEO, and Busi Mavuso, BLSA’s CEO and an Eskom board member at the time, were obligated to notify the board of the investigation.
Funding such an investigation while being a board member was a significant conflict of interest for Mavuso, according to Sithole.
Furthermore, the report would inevitably have ended up with the board and various oversight bodies – regardless of how the investigation was carried out.
For Sithole, De Ruyter and BLSA would only be justified in being secretive if the board was notified and unwilling to allow such an investigation.
The ends justify the means
BLSA CEO Busi Mavuso said the ends justify the means, and R50 million was not wasted on the private investigation.
Mavuso claimed that the investigations funded by BLSA resulted in 43 arrests and disrupted coal syndicates operating at Eskom.
It is also “illogical and unfair” to dismiss reports in their totality because one element of the investigative process, Oosthuizen, has a bad history.
BLSA also said they were unaware of Oosthuizen’s involvement in the investigation and that De Ruyter was responsible for informing Eskom’s board.
Mavuso defended the investigation as “an intelligence-driven operation done with senior leadership at Eskom and worked with the South African Police Services”.
It is not an anomaly for Eskom to approach BLSA for assistance, according to Mavuso, as the utility had done it multiple times before.
“We will never really know the truth,” according to Mavuso, because Parliament rejected the opportunity to formally investigate the allegations contained in the report.