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Public protector clears Eskom COO of maladministration and improper claims

Public Protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane briefs the media in Pretoria. Picture: Bongani Shilubane/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Public Protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane briefs the media in Pretoria. Picture: Bongani Shilubane/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Nov 30, 2021

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Johannesburg - Public Protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane has cleared Eskom chief operating officer Jan Oberholzer of various allegations of maladministration and improper conduct levelled against him.

Mkhwebane on Tuesday released three reports on her investigations but was unable to make any findings nor take any remedial action on the complaint by SA Federation of Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi on behalf of Eskom special projects general manager Mark Chettiar.

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”We have therefore decided not to pursue the matter any further and thus finalise it by means of a closing report,” she said.

Mkhwebane could also not find that the conduct of Eskom constituted improper conduct as envisaged in the Constitution and maladministration or abuse of power as envisaged in the Public Protector Act.

Chettiar accused Oberholzer of participating in meetings and supported the extension of a contract between Eskom and Stefanutti Stocks but failed to disclose that he owned shares in that company.

Oberholzer had pressed for the payment of R42 million to Aveng Construction by Eskom despite the latter not performing in line with its required contractual obligations, according to the allegations against him.

Mkhwebane said the issue relating to the allegations that Eskom entered into a contract with Aveng Construction, which obliged Eskom to pay an amount of R42m even though such payment was not warranted, was decided by the South Gauteng High Court in September last year when Eskom was directed to pay the company nearly R40.1m including interest.

”By virtue of Section 6(6) of the Public Protector Act, the Public Protector cannot investigate court decisions,” she said.

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Eskom previously appointed advocate Nazeer Cassim SC to investigate the allegations and he recommended that the disciplinary action he proposed against Oberholzer be held in abeyance until high court litigation initiated by Aveng Construction against the power utility was finalised.

The matter has also been investigated by advocate Eric Mkhawane SC and internally by Eskom.

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