Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane Picture: Jeffrey Abrahams/ANA Pictures

Cape Town – Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has launched a new preliminary investigation into allegations of influence-peddling at three state-owned entities.

The Public Protector’s office said in a statement on Wednesday it was investigating allegations involving Eskom, Transnet and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa).

The probe comes after media reports this month on up to 200 000 emails allegedly detailing communication between the Gupta family and ministers and officials, which have been branded the #GuptaLeaks.

“The Public Protector South Africa, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, has decided to conduct a preliminary investigation for the purpose of determining the merits of several allegations published in the media,” the protector’s office said.

The investigation will focus on allegations of “improper or dishonest act” with respect to the public funds at Eskom, Prasa and Transnet and “unlawful enrichment” by certain public officials, it said.

Among the complaints being investigated are the following:

a) That the Gupta family received high-level confidential information from the then Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi;

b) That at least two immigration officials (Gideon Christians and a Ms Munyadziwa) were specially positioned in India by the then Minister of Home Affairs, to assist Gupta associate Ashu Chawla to the benefit of Gupta-owned businesses, liaising through Mr Major Kobese (a music producer and director in the foreign office of the Department of Home Affairs).

c) That former acting Eskom boss Matshela Koko leaked a legal opinion to the Gupta family

d) That Koko channeled contracts worth millioons to a company in which his stepdaughter was a part owner

e) That Minister Lynne Brown failed to exercise the required executive oversight over Eskom, its board and management

f) Allegations by former Minister of Mineral Resources, Ngoako Ramatlhodi, that former Eskom CEO, Mr Brian Molefe and former Eskom Board chairperson, Ben Ngubane pressurised him to help the Guptas take over Glencore’s coal mine in 2016.

g) Allegations regarding a kickback agreement totalling R5.3 billion, in respect of the procurement of locomotives at Transnet.