Koko, the power utility’s former interim group chief executive, has been cleared of the misconduct charges he was facing following a highly publicised disciplinary hearing. According to Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe, Koko was expected to report for work on Monday.
Koko faced charges relating to, among others, failure to properly declare a conflict of interest because his step-daughter Koketso Choma was a shareholder in Impulse International, a company that had won a number of Eskom contracts. Eskom also charged Koko for usurping the authority of members of his executive team when he was interim chief executive.
In a closing submission to the chairperson of the disciplinary hearing Mzungulu Mthombeni, Koko last month said Eskom had failed “dismally” to establish a prima facie case on any of the charges he faced.
Koko also said it was “just and equitable” that the cash-strapped Eskom should foot his legal costs, saying the charges against him had proved to be spurious. He said Eskom had put him to massive expense unnecessarily, “even more so taking into account the leisurely manner in which it went about to pursue the charges.” He said it would be unfair for him to pay his lawyers from his own pocket.
Phasiwe yesterday said the utility would settle Koko’s legal costs. “We have not been presented with the costs by Koko’s legal representatives but, if and when that happens, Eskom will pay the standard costs that we usually pay for such cases,” said Phasiwe.
In his findings, Mthombeni said it would not be just, equitable and reasonable to expect Koko to carry the burden of a massive legal bill. He said Eskom should consider paying “reasonable” legal costs to be negotiated by the parties.
Advocate Frans Barrie, SC, and advocate Louwrens Malan represented Koko at the hearings. Koko was initially placed on special leave after reports surfaced about Choma’s shareholding at Impulse. He was later suspended on full pay.
Meanwhile, Eskom had also reinstated Prish Govender as acting head of group capital, Phasiwe said.
Govender’s suspension related to the money that Eskom paid to Trillian Investments and global consulting firm McKinsey.
Eskom wants the two companies to repay about R1.6billion that it paid without a valid and lawful contract in place.
Govender’s reinstatement, according to Phasiwe, followed an investigation by law firm Bowmans. Govender resumed with his duties on Tuesday, Phasiwe said.
He said probes into the conduct of other suspended executives were in “different stages of completion”. Eskom last year suspended chief financial officer Anoj Singh following the payments to McKinsey and Trillian. Executive in the office of group chief executive Abram Masango and head of legal head and compliance Suzanne Daniels are also on suspension.
The relatively high number of suspended executives is a financial burden on the power utility.
- BUSINESS REPORT