The shadow of new Chief Executive of state-owned power utility Eskom Andre de Ruyter is seen as he speaks at a media briefing in Johannesburg. Picture: ANA
The shadow of new Chief Executive of state-owned power utility Eskom Andre de Ruyter is seen as he speaks at a media briefing in Johannesburg. Picture: ANA

EXCLUSIVE: Spotlight on De Ruyter’s irregular appointments

By Thabo Makwakwa Time of article published Jun 4, 2021

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DURBAN - RYNO Pepler, an independent forensic accountant, was “irregularly sub-contracted by Bowmans to conduct forensic work when he was not registered on the government’s central supplier database”.

In the latest saga involving Eskom and controversial forensic law firm Bowmans, the Daily News has obtained evidence that demonstrates that Bowmans, which was allegedly irregularly appointed by the power utility, might have violated further National Treasury regulations when it took it upon itself to appoint Pepler to investigate giant fuel supplier Econ Oil.

Bowmans’ allegedly irregular appointment by the power utility permitted for more irregularities as the firm employed the services of Pepler even though he did not meet the National Treasury requirements.

Information the Daily News has in its possession is that Pepler was allegedly irregularly sub-contracted by Bowmans to conduct forensic work when he was not registered on the government’s central supplier database under National Treasury.

Pepler investigated the alleged overcharging of Eskom by Econ Oil to the tune of R1.2 billion. At the centre of the battle is a R5.2 billion fuel supplier contract between Econ Oil and Eskom.

In his affidavit, seen by the Daily News and filed in the South Gauteng High Court in May, Pepler admitted that he was still involved in some of the investigations conducted by Bowmans and was responsible for calculations of possible overcharging of Eskom.

Contrary to the admission made by Pepler in his affidavit that he is an independent forensic consultant contracted to Bowmans, Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha said the firm did not breach National Treasury policies or regulations.

“Bowmans did not subcontract any services. Bowmans utilises consultant resources who are brought in by the Bowmans forensic team on an insourced basis when certain investigative capacity, skills, and or expertise is required on an investigation. Such consultants are charged as Bowmans fee earners and not as subcontracted resources. Consultants were included as Bowmans fee earners in the proposal provided to Eskom. This arrangement was agreed with Eskom,” said Mantshantsha.

Documentary evidence in the paper’s possession confirm Eskom officials indicated Pepler was not registered on the database and Eskom certainly did not grant approval for Bowmans to subcontract Pepler to conduct the investigation.

Without the entity’s approval, the Treasury policy clause 12.(1) which states a person awarded a contract may only enter into a subcontractor arrangement with the approval of the organ of the state it would seem was violated.

Corroborating Pepler’s affidavit, Eskom’s group chief executive Andre de Ruyter in his sworn papers filed at court in the ongoing litigation between Eskom and Econ Oil correctly referenced Pepler as an independent forensic accountant contracted to Bowmans and not an employee insourced by Bowmans as indicated by the entity’s spokesperson.

A source within Eskom who has intricate knowledge of the matter told the Daily News anonymously that it was strange how Bowmans contracted an unregistered forensic consultant to do its work.

“Bowmans would not have been appointed even in the old panel if they declared they were going to use consultants from other firms. Tendering does not work that way; they commit gross irregularities and they are not held accountable,” said the source.

Several attempts to get a comment from Johan Kruger from Bowmans proved fruitless as he did not answer calls or reply to emails.

The power utility’s alleged “double standard” attempts to tackle corruption have been questioned by concerned executives, including Nerina Otto from Eskom’s legal and compliance department, who addressed her concern through a letter to the fired chief procurement officer Solly Tshitangano and other officials.

Daily News

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