File image: IOL.

CAPE TOWN - It is alleged that an Eskom manager earned approximately R20 million in bribes to sanction construction group, Tubular Construction Projects to seize a profitable Kusile contract from international rail transport, Alstom. 

The whopping amount was allegedly paid into the bank account of Hlakudi Translation and Interpretation CC, dating back to 2015, reports the City Press. 

Notably, France Hlakudi, Eskom’s contract manager at Medupi and Kusile, is the only member of this business entity.

In addition to this, large sums of money were also withdrawn from the account over the same period, adding to suspicion of illicit dealings. 

The conspiracy allegations at Eskom’s Kusile power plant in Mpumalanga was divulged in an anonymous letter sent to Zethembe Khosa, chairperson of the Eskom board, in September.

The allegations contained in the letter are currently under investigation by Eskom and the police. 

The allegations circle around a contract that was awarded to Alstom for the supply of air-conditioned condensators at Kusile. 

Hlakudi has fired back by saying:

“As you are aware, I am expected to testify in Mr M Koko’s disciplinary hearing. 

"Furthermore, according to media reports, Eskom intends conducting an investigation into the allegations referred to in your article and the police are also investigating the matter.

“In the circumstances, it would be inappropriate, if not improper, to deal with the allegations in any detail at this stage, save for pointing out that your article has a number of factual inaccuracies and that I strongly deny all allegations of impropriety levelled against me.

"The allegations are false and defamatory. I am taking legal advice regarding my rights and the institution of legal action. 

“You will no doubt ask yourself why these allegations and alleged documentary evidence emerges at this point in time. 

“Clearly, they are part of a desperate and transparent attempt to divert attention from the real issues at hand and to pre-empt the evidence that will be led against Mr Koko at his disciplinary hearing. 

“Unfortunately, your intended publication will serve these ulterior motives. 

“I will prove, at the appropriate time and in the appropriate forum, that these allegations are false and that I did not act unlawfully or improperly in any manner.”

Tubular is believed to have worked out that its tender price for the direct contract with Eskom should have been R1.5 billion, but reduced it to R708 million. 

This was allegedly a ploy to ensure that the tender would serve before a tender committee over which Hlakudi could exercise his influence as the committee has authority over contracts up to the value of R750 million. 

Upon reaching an agreement between Lomas and Tony Trindade, CEO of Tubular and Hlakudi, Eskom confirmed the contract was increased to R1.2 billion in July this year. 

“The contract price was increased to about R1.2bn in July this year after being approved following the Eskom governance processes”, said Eskom spokesman, Khulu Phasiwe. 

TCP has been contacted for comment but Independent Media reported on November 3, that they have received no response. 

Eskom has meanwhile rejected allegations that it had made payments to TCP without a contract. 

Notably, the power utility is in the midst of a public controversy, relating to payments of R495m to Trillian. 

The entity was majority owned by Gupta ally, Salim Essa, until July this year. 


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