Scopa threatens to subpoena former top SAPS official over Eskom corruption probes

Scopa wants to conclude its investigations into Eskom. File Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Scopa wants to conclude its investigations into Eskom. File Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Oct 10, 2023


The Standing Committee on Public Accounts has threatened to subpoena a former senior official in the South African Police Service (SAPS) if he fails to appear at their next meeting.

Brigadier Jaap Burger has been investigating corruption at Eskom.

But when Scopa started to ask him to come and give evidence, he wrote to Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula explaining why Scopa was not a competent structure to discuss national security matters.

Burger said Scopa has no mandate to handle national security issues.

But the legal opinion obtained by Scopa has countered the submission by Burger to Mapisa-Nqakula on his refusal to appear before the committee.

The evidence relates to the allegations made by former Eskom boss, André de Ruyter a few months ago that high-ranking politicians were involved in corruption at the power utility.

De Ruyter had also commissioned an intelligence report that allegedly named some of the people involved in fleecing Eskom.

Scopa chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said the legal opinion by Parliament’s legal advisers was going to help them decide on their next course of action after Burger failed to show up at the previous meetings of the committee.

In the legal opinion presented to Scopa on Tuesday, it said Burger has no basis to refuse to appear before parliament.

“Brig Burger raises a generalised defence for not accounting on the basis that the information related to the Eskom allegations amount to information on national security and organised crime/corruption and therefore Scopa is not legally entitled to consider such (without explaining why or how the portfolio committee on police or the portfolio committee on public enterprises are legally empowered than these allegations).

“Brig Burger also questions whether the JSCI (joint standing committee on intelligence) is more suited to dealing with the allegations since it holds its meetings in closed sessions and is legally able to access information on national security even if it is classified,” read the legal opinion.

If added that Burger had not indicated whether the information at his disposal was classified in terms of the Minimum Information Security Standards policy.

The legal opinion said Burger should appear before the committee.

It was agreed that Burger, who retired from the SAPS recently, be asked to appear before Scopa, failing which he must be subpoenaed.

EFF MP Ntombovuyo Mente said Scopa must summons Burger as he has shown that he was not keen to voluntarily appear before the committee.

She said Burger has been using delaying tactics to avoid Scopa.

Alf Lees of the DA said Burger must be asked to appear before the committee and if he fails then the committee must invoke parliamentary powers to summons him.

Bheki Hadebe of the ANC said Scopa should urge Burger to come to parliament and give them information on corruption at Eskom.

He said they were not interested in national security matters, but on who was behind corruption at the power utility.

Hlengwa said they will give Burger seven working days to respond to their letter on whether he will come to parliament or not. If he fails to show up, then Scopa will be forced to subpoena him, he said.