Suspended Eskom head of security enjoying full salary



Published Jul 4, 2024


Power utility Eskom has confirmed that its head of security, Karen Pillay, is still drawing full salary despite being placed on precautionary suspension a year ago, over her alleged involvement in a controversial R500 million security contract.

“Eskom can confirm that the head of security is still under precautionary suspension and the matter into the Fidelity Services Group contract is still under investigation,” the utility’s spokesperson, Daphne Mokoena, said in a written response to ‘The Star’.

When the subject of the questionable tender surfaced, Eskom stated that the process had been entirely above board. In a statement, released on June 11, 2023, it sought to reassure South Africans that the contract was in line with its Procurement Procedure and the National Treasury directives for emergency service procurement.

“The placement of the security contract was necessitated by information received by management indicating a potential serious security risk to Eskom’s operations and assets. The contract was established from July 2022 to September 2022 with an estimated budget of R500 million.”

Eskom added that it had assessed the supplier’s quotation and was satisfied with proceeding with their offering, including the prices quoted.

Following a public outcry, Eskom made a U-turn and announced that the contract would be investigated. According to reports, that sudden backtracking was as a result of pressure from the board.

Fidelity Group was awarded a multimillion-rand tender without any competitive bidding process to look after Eskom’s infrastructure for three months. That decision was backed by a security report compiled by former police chief George Fivaz, at the request of former CEO Andre de Ruyter.

Eskom has now conceded that it was “working with the relevant authorities to investigate the contract to ensure that the matter comes to finality without further delay,” adding that the “emergency process was closed; hence, no payments are being affected”.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is among the law enforcement agencies investigating the tender in question.

‘The Star’ contacted SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago for comment two weeks ago. “Not possible, short notice,” Kganyago said on June 22. “It is the weekend. Will not be able to get investigators,” he responded.

“Waiting for a response,” Kganyago said on June 25.

Meanwhile, African Security Congress (ASC) President Tebogo Motloung, has slammed Eskom, saying the power utility “could have potentially powered more than 100 000 households this winter”.

“In July 2022, Eskom granted Fidelity a security contract worth half a billion rand for three months, using emergency procurement procedures, which, in our view, was simply to mask a corrupt deal,” Motloung said.

“With that amount, the power utility could have procured around 1000 (315KVA - 500KVA) transformers or mini-substations to replace those damaged in the townships, particularly in Gauteng. That would have resulted in more than 100 000 households accessing electricity during this cold period. Additionally, it would have addressed the challenges of overloading the network that the utility keeps using as an excuse to switch off customers.”