Fidelity Services Group has committed to working with law enforcement agencies investigating a controversial multi-million rand security contract at Eskom, allegedly without a competitive bidding process.
Fidelity Group CEO Wahl Bartmann confirmed yesterday that the group was awarded a R250 million three-month emergency contract to provide “a comprehensive security solution” at Eskom, consisting of a national deployment to cover generation and transmission facilities.
According to Eskom, the placement of the security contract was necessitated by information received by management indicating that there was a potential serious security risk to its operations and assets.
The contract was from July to September last year with an estimated budget of R500 million, but a total of approximately R250 million including VAT was spent for the duration of the contract.
It was placed under emergency procurement to avert potential threats and to safeguard critical sites at Eskom.
The scope of the contract mainly focused on the critical power stations, strategic corporate sites as well the transmission network.
Eskom’s head of security, Karen Pillay, was suspended last week for allegedly playing a central role in putting together the scope of the contract that favoured Fidelity, after she relied on intelligence information that was gathered by Eskom’s former CEO André de Ruyter in a covert operation.
However, Bartmann denied reports that Fidelity also provided intelligence services to Eskom.
“We will provide our full and unconditional co-operation to any inquiry that may be held as we are confident that all due processes were followed,” Bartmann said.
“All services and solutions were confirmed, vetted and approved with the client and the services provided met the compliance stipulations.”
Earlier this month, Eskom admitted that the contract was awarded to Fidelity without a competitive tender process.
The power utility said that prior to placement of the contract, it assessed the quotation from the supplier in responding to its request and was satisfied on proceeding with their offering including the prices quoted.
Bartmann said yesterday that Fidelity and other service providers were already supplying other services to Eskom during this period, in support of their national wage dispute.
He said the contract was awarded based on the group’s experience in managing specialised services in critical national infrastructure and its national footprint.
These include Fidelity’s land and air support with helicopter and tactical drone surveillance capabilities, specialised armoured personnel carriers, tactical intervention units, access and crowd control.
Bartmann said Fidelity’s business centre, as well as national command centres, were used for operational compliance and execution.
Meanwhile, calls have been mounting to get Eskom’s executives who were involved in this contract suspended and those who have left to be investigated and arrested.
The African Security Congress (ASC), a political party that looks after the interests of private security guards, said last week that Pillay, De Ruyter and operations manager Jan Oberholzer should face the music.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has also said it strongly believed that there was unfaithfulness displayed in this whole process, and was calling for law enforcement agencies to thoroughly investigate the matter and prosecute all the “greedy looters”.