Scopa to offer retired police officer last chance to testify

Scopa chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa.

Scopa chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa.

Published Oct 11, 2023


A retired police officer assigned to meet former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter over allegations about corruption involving cartel and syndicates at the power utility, could be summoned to appear before the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa).

The committee on Tuesday resolved to provide Brigadier Jap Burger another opportunity to appear before it.

In June SAPS commissioner Fannie Masemola informed Scopa that Burger cited safety concerns about appearing publicly.

In a letter to National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Burger cited his non-attendance as being because Eskom was a national key point and Scopa lacked a mandate to deal with national security matters.

He had preferred to give evidence before the joint standing committee on intelligence, together with the portfolio committees on police and public enterprises.

Briefing the committee on Tuesday, parliamentary legal advisor Frank Jenkins said Scopa was mandated to conduct financial oversight over all organs of state.

He also said the watchdog body could further investigate any matter related to financial statements, audits and other expenditure of state organs, including Eskom.

Jenkins said that if Burger appeared before Scopa, he should be sworn in and afforded protection in terms of the Powers Act, and that the SAPS be requested to advise whether they had conducted a security assessment to ascertain any threat to his safety.

“A further attempt should be made to secure the voluntary attendance of Brigadier Burger.

“If he maintains his refusal, the committee may summon him provided the information it seeks from him is within his personal knowledge and cannot be obtained in a less restrictive manner,” he said.

The majority of MPs were in favour of Burger being afforded the opportunity to voluntarily appear before the committee, or be subpoenaed should he refuse.

DA MP Alf Lees said it seemed clear that Scopa should move ahead with interviewing Burger, but EFF MP Ntombovuyo Mente said they were dealing with someone who had made up his mind and undermined not only Scopa, but also Parliament.

“Why nurse the interests of a person who lacks the interest to address us? We need to summon him and not send another invite,” she said.

Scopa chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa noted that despite the committee sending letters asking him to give evidence, he never responded but wrote to Mapisa-Nqakula.

“We will send that letter (on Tuesday), and failure to respond or not agreeable to appear, the committee will exercise its right to issue a subpoena,” he said.

Meanwhile Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan said outgoing Eskom board chairperson Mpho Makwana will be succeeded by Mteto Nyati. Makwana was appointed in September last year to help the power utility get out of trouble.

At the time Makwana assumed the position, Eskom had started experiencing an increase in load shedding, with higher stages of power cuts being implemented.

Eskom has been struggling over the last few years and has delayed submitting its audited financial statements to Parliament by the end of September.

The power utility suffered a loss of R5 billion in the first quarter of the current financial year. Eskom is also under pressure to expand its transmission lines to connect renewable energy projects.

Minister of Electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said recently that the power utility did not have a strong balance sheet to invest in the expansion of the grid.

Ramokgopa said they would need more than R250 billion to expand the grid, and they were courting the private sector to invest in the project.

Cape Times