Johannesburg - The State has given former Eskom executive officer Abram Masango and his co-accused an additional three months to declare whether they are ready to stand trial for allegedly defrauding the power utility of almost R800 million.
Masango, Eskom contracts manager France Hlakudi, businessman Maphoko Kgomoeswana, and Antonio Trindade appeared briefly in the Palm Ridge Commercial Crimes Court for their role in the Kusile R745 million corruption matter.
All four were not asked to plead on various counts of fraud, corruption and money laundering against them.
The Palm Ridge Specialised Commercial Crime Court yesterday postponed the case to June 1 to allow the exchange of additional documents requested by the defence.
The case pertains to the construction of the Medupi and Kusile power stations where gross manipulation of contracts happened. The contracts in question were worth R745m to build two air-cooled condenser units at Kusile power station had allegedly been manipulated by the appointed companies, related entities and individuals who shared R30m among themselves between February 2015 and July 2017.
Another accused, Michael Lomas, former board chairperson of Tubular Construction, is currently living in the United Kingdom and the Investigating Directorate is currently busy with the extradition request.
In the charge sheet, the state gives a detailed account of how Lomas made various payments to two companies Hlakudi Translation and Interpretation and Bon Service Telekom both belonging to Hlakudi. The amounts ranged from R 7 500 to up R1m.
“On July 31, 2015, Lomas paid R1 million from his bank account to the bank account of Hlakudi Translation and Interpretation. On the same date, Hlakudi made a cash withdrawal of R900 000 from the bank account of Hlakudi Translation and Interpretation."
The State alleged that Trindade also made payments to Hlakudi through his various companies after being subcontracted to do work at Kusile.
“On August 27, 2015, Tubular Construction Projects – a company owned by Trindade, paid R670 000 to the bank account of Bon Service Telekom (owned by Hlakudi).
“On September 2, 2015, Hlakudi sent a letter to Trindade stating that Excops had resolved to engage in a negotiation with Tubular Construction Projects as a sole negotiation party for the erection of Air Cooler Condenser (ACC) for Units 4 and 6 of Kusile. On the same date, Patrice Tiberi (formerly an employee of Tubular Constructions Projects) on the instruction of Trindade, paid R400 000 from his personal account to the bank account of Hlakudi Translation and Interpretation.
“On September 4, 2015, Tubular Construction Projects represented by Trindade paid R230 000 to the bank account of Bon Service Telekom,” the indictment states.
In the indictment, the former Eskom executives Masango and Hlakudi are accused of having received undue gratification valued at R30 million each, from the contractors Trindade and Lomas.
Kgoemoeswana and his company Babinatlou Business Services CC are accused of being the vehicle that facilitated bribes on behalf of the Eskom Kusile contractors to the State-owned power generations’ top officials.
The other companies implicated in the case are Hlakudi Translation and Interpretation, Bon Service Telekom, Tubular Construction Projects, Abeyla Trading, Cosira Tubular Joint Venture (Pty) LTD.
Their bail of R300 000 each was extended.