Former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter could face legal action for the R50 million private investigation he facilitated into corruption and maladministration at the power utility.
In 2021, during his tenure as Eskom CEO, De Ruyter initiated a private investigation into corruption at Eskom. It was intended to complement law enforcement investigations at the utility.
From this investigation, forensic investigation organisation George Fivaz Forensic and Risk (GFFR) compiled a damning report on criminal activity at Eskom, which implicated top government officials.
De Ruyter revealed some of these findings to the public in an interview with eNCA’s Annika Larsen earlier this year.
However, the report’s findings have since been criticized, with journalist Jacques Pauw claiming it “contained no facts” and was “effectively worthless”.
Special Investigating Unit (SIU) head Lekgoa Mothibi told Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts that the SIU has not ruled out taking legal action against De Ruyter for facilitating this investigation.
Mothibi said the SIU has established that GFFR was appointed by Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA), which had also contributed R18 million towards the R50 million investigation.
However, the investigation was “facilitated” by De Ruyter, Mothibi said, which he did not have the authority to do.
Despite De Ruyter’s good intentions, the SIU is of the view that “the manner in which he went about it was not consistent with his office and without informing the board, the SIU, DPCI, SAPS and executive authority, this is maladministration on his part”.
“The former CEO did not have authority to investigate the affairs of Eskom,” he said.
“It does appear that he had a distrust of law enforcement agencies. But, as a CEO, it was incumbent on him to raise the distrust appropriately to the appropriate levels, but he went on and commissioned a parallel investigation.”
“Consideration should be given to holding the former CEO to account.”
Mothibi said it now becomes a legal question since Eskom no longer employs De Ruyter. The SIU will consider the available options with the board and advise accordingly.
“Should the nature of the action warrant it, we would formally reach out to wherever he is so that action can be taken.”
De Ruyter currently works as a guest lecturer at the private Ivy League research university Yale in the US.
Mathibi also mentioned taking action against GFFR and BLSA “should it be warranted” since the organisations should have reasonably known that they could not investigate a state institution without the necessary authority.