Suspended Eskom Group Executive Matshela Koko.
JOHANNESBURG - Suspended Eskom executive Matshela Koko said yesterday that former senior manager for contracts management at Kusile power station France Hlakudi received a R61million bribe from Tubular Construction Projects, a subcontractor at Kusile.

Testifying at his disciplinary hearing at Eskom’s offices, Koko said approximately R38m was withdrawn in cash between January last year and August this year.

He said part of the money was used to pay a “retainer” to Eskom’s current and former employees and he singled out Nombasa Mantashe and Mildred Nyoka. “Nombasa is the daughter of the ANC Secretary-General (Gwede Mantashe). This is what gave Hlakudi the arrogance,” said Koko. He said Nyoka reported to Hlakudi at Kusile.

Hlakudi was one of the witnesses lined up by Eskom who failed to testify in the hearing. He recently resigned from the power utility.

Koko alleged that Nombasa Mantashe received R978000, while Nyoka allegedly got R200000. Nombasa Mantashe has previously denied the allegations.

Koko said the alleged corruption at Kusile was the reason for his February 2017 instruction to former Kusile projects director Frans Sithole to remove Hlakudi from the Kusile project. But he said Sithole and his superior at the time Abram Masango resisted. Koko said his instruction to remove Hlakudi led to his own suspension. “It is a consequence of my action to remove Hlakudi. Once I insisted that Hlakudi must be moved, the media frenzy began,” he said.

Koko also accused Hlakudi and suspended Eskom head of legal and compliance Suzanne Daniels for leaking information about him. “I have no doubt. I know so,” he said.

But Daniels yesterday dismissed Koko’s allegation and cast aspersions on his credibility. “History has taught us that liars are not deterred by an oath, which Koko reportedly took. I would therefore be bothered if the allegation was made by someone who still had some grain of credibility. Only the dumbest will give Mr Koko a benefit of a doubt after so many lies, including the Carte Blanche saga,” said Daniels.

Koko has been suspended for, among others, failing to declare a conflict of interest, because his step-daughter Koketso Choma was a director of Impulse International, a company that does work for Eskom. He has denied any wrongdoing.

He said he learnt about Choma’s involvement in Impulse after he and Choma had a casual conversation at his house about her future plans in September last year. She had told him that she was a director and shareholder at Impulse.

Relationship

He said he instructed Choma to resign from Impulse. “I did not want any of my family members to have a relationship with a company doing business with Eskom,” said Koko.

He said he knew that Impulse was doing business with Eskom, but did not know of the details of the contract. He defended his decision not to investigate the nature of contractual relationship between Eskom and Impulse. “If I had done more to investigate, I would have been accused of a cover up,” he said.

He said he has previously instructed his wife Khomotso Choma, a businesswoman, to resign from construction companies Basil Read and Murray & Roberts because the two companies had business dealings with Eskom.

Koko said he did not generally discuss business dealings with his wife. In his testimony, Koko said he wanted his old job back. “I want to go back to where I was before I was suspended,” said Koko. The hearing concluded yesterday.

- BUSINESS REPORT