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JOHANNESBURG - Former Eskom senior employee France Hlakudi has hit back at suspended chief executive Matshela Koko and threatened to lay criminal charges against him and also sue him over claims that he received bribes.

Yesterday lawyers for Hlakudi denied that R61million had been deposited into his account and R38m withdrawn in cash, as bribes, by a contractor at Eskom.

The lawyers, Knowles Husain Lindsay, further denied that Hlakudi had kept ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe’s daughter, Mbasa Mawela, and another senior employee at Eskom on a retainer as part of the corrupt activities.

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They described the allegations by Koko as a last-ditch attempt to save face in his disciplinary action at Eskom.

Koko is also accused of threatening Hlakudi against testifying against him in the hearing a few weeks ago. Hlakudi and some of the Eskom employees refused to testify against Koko.

Suspended Eskom Group Executive Matshela Koko.

The lawyers denied that the R400000 paid by Tubular Construction Projects had been a bribe to secure contracts at Kusile. The money had been paid into Hlakudi’s close corporation company.

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“HTI (Hlakudi Translation and Interpretation) did receive the sum of R400000, which was unsolicited. This payment was not a bribe. The payment was in respect of, and used towards, the community development projects,” said the lawyers.

Projects

These were seven projects in Sekhukhune where there was construction and refurbishment of roads, churches, schools and internet connection.

They said the person who made the affidavit, Patrice Tiberi, about the allegation had made another affidavit claiming not to have personal knowledge of some of the issues.

They said the allegations had been a smokescreen to remove Hlakudi from his position as project manager at Kusile.

The lawyers said Koko had raised the allegations to divert attention from the investigation into his stepdaughter’s R1.2billion contract with Eskom.

They also denied a claim by Hlakudi’s former bodyguard, Ntokozo Dubazana, that he had delivered bags of money to various people, including a journalist and a politician. Dubazana had been fired for stealing R9960, said Hlakudi’s lawyers.

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Hlakudi also denied that Mawela had been paid a retainer of R978000. “We are advised that Ms Mawela’s attorneys will be issuing a statement. Suffice it to say that our client and Ms Mawela have a business relationship going back several years, in terms of which she sells broiler chickens to our client, who is involved in chicken farming. The payments made by our client to Ms Mawela are for the aggregate purchase price of such chickens,” said the lawyers.

- BUSINESS REPORT