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Eskom hires Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr

Energy
Johannesburg - The Eskom board has enlisted the services law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr to conduct a forensic and legal investigation following allegations that the stepdaughter of the utility’s chief executive, Matshela Koko, scored contracts worth R1 billion from the parastatal.

In a statement yesterday, Eskom said the forensic and legal investigation would commence with immediate effect.

“The allegations in the public domain have a corrosive impact on the social standing of Eskom, as a brand, as well as its entire leadership.

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Matshela Koko

"As a board, we have a constitutional mandate to probe these allegations, with a view to getting to the unassailable truth of the situation,” said Eskom chairperson Ben Ngubane.

The Sunday Times reported that Koko’s stepdaughter Koketso Choma was a director of Impulse International, which allegedly scored a number of Eskom contracts, raising questions about the obvious conflict of interest.

Koko, who took over as acting Eskom head after former chief executive Brian Molefe’s departure in December last year, said he was not aware that Choma was a director at Impulse International, even though they allegedly live in the same house in Bryanston, Johannesburg.

Koko told the newspaper that he told her to resign when he learnt in August of her involvement in the company.

Impulse International describes itself as a multinational engineering and project management consultancy and technical service provider.

It counts contracts at Eskom’s Medupi, Kusile and Kriel power stations among its key projects.

Ngubane said that Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr had been instructed to conduct a forensic and legal investigation in respect of the reports concerning the potential conflict of interest relating to Choma’s shareholding in Impulse International.

“The objective of the investigation will be to ascertain whether the allegations can be corroborated and/or substantiated by evidence including real and/or documentary evidence,” said Ngubane.

Read also: Eskom board probes allegations of impropriety

He said Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr would appoint an independent auditing firm to assist with the forensic investigation.

Eskom’s step follows Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown’s call for the power utility to address the matter swiftly. Initial reports this week said Brown had given the Eskom board 90 days to report back on whether Choma had improperly benefited from power utility contracts.

Ngubane said the board did not interfere with the development of the scope of the investigation.

“Instead, we decided to leave it to Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr to craft it so as to facilitate, inter alia, effective scope consideration owing to their expertise.

"As a board, we will not hesitate to implement the resultant recommendations,” said Ngubane.

Eskom board spokesperson Khulani Qoma said yesterday that the probe would be concluded in 30 days, in line with Brown’s wishes.

He said the investigation had no bearing on Eskom’s search for Molefe’s replacement. Koko is regarded as the frontrunner for the position.

“The search for a new group chief executive commenced a few weeks ago,” said Qoma.

BUSINESS REPORT

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