A sub-contractor for power utility Eskom Rotek Industries (ERI) is among the latest employees to be arrested for bribery at the Camden Power Station in Mpumalanga.
Eskom said the arrest of the sub-contractor is an encouraging step in its persistent efforts to fight crime. The suspect’s arrest comes after he approached a coal truck driver and alleged that he had offloaded coal mixed with rocks on September 26, 2023.
The suspect entered the truck’s cab and produced three pieces of rocks, presumably being part of the coal meant for delivery at the power station. He reportedly informed the driver that rocks were a problem and that he was grounding all the trucks.
Three trucks were in the queue at the time. The suspect then demanded that the driver contact his employer.
The driver contacted his supervisor at the coal transporting company, who then spoke to the suspect, who attempted to solicit a bribe by requesting a sum of R6 000 (R2 000 for each truck), after which he would allow the coal to be off-loaded. Despite the supervisor not acceding to the suspect’s demands, the trucks were allowed to offload the coal.
The conversation between the driver, supervisor and suspect were captured through the truck’s fleet vehicle camera system. An internal Eskom investigation found that the sub-contractor had, indeed, solicited a bribe from the hauler and his supervisor.
It also established that the coal delivered, contrary to the suspect’s claims, was in accordance with Eskom’s specifications. The suspect had since confessed to soliciting a bribe and was arrested and detained at the Ermelo police station.
He was subsequently charged with bribery and appeared before the Ermelo Magistrate’s Court on October 12, 2023, as per Ermelo CAS: 114/10/2023.
“The arrest of the sub-contractor is an encouraging step in our persistent efforts to fight crime. We commend the driver and supervisor who refused to pay the bribe and reported the matter to Eskom. It is through such co-operative efforts that the battle against crime and corruption will be won,” said Botse Sikhwitshi, Acting General Manager for Security at Eskom.
Sikhwitshi added that there is compelling evidence against the suspect.
Eskom commends the SAPS for the swift action in arresting the suspect, following a thorough investigation by the Eskom Group Security team.
In July this year, an Eskom employee and a female truck driver appeared before the Kriel Magistrate’s Court on a charge of theft and fraud. It was alleged the pair worked together to defraud Eskom.
Thirty-six-year-old Sphiwe Sindane, an Eskom employee, and 41-year-old Loveless Mabaso, a truck driver attached to a company subcontracted to supply heavy fuel oil to Eskom, were arrested on July 18, 2023, for failing to deliver heavy fuel oil that was meant to be delivered to the Matla Power Station in Mpumalanga.
It was alleged that the pair sold and delivered the fuel oil to someone known to them and later submitted a fraudulent invoice to Eskom claiming to have delivered the fuel. Eskom suffered a loss of R1 million.
Earlier this year, Zandile Rosemary Ngcobo, 43, an Eskom employee working at Tutuka Power Station as a procurement officer (buyer), together with her co-accused, Annemarie Stander, 55, Jessica Khubheka, 61, Solomon Twala, 59, and Nomsa Sibiya, 49, appeared before the Middelburg Specialised Commercial Crime Court after they were arrested by the Middelburg-based Hawks’ Serious Commercial Crime Investigation team for fraud, theft and money laundering respectively.
The investigation revealed that during 2021, Eskom’s Tutuka Power Station issued an order to Umnandi Conference and Catering for the purchase and delivery of two containers at the power station.
It was alleged that the accused, as procurement officer, colluded with the service provider (Umnandi Services) and submitted fraudulent documents, inflating the prices from R60 000 to R 939 000, causing actual prejudice to Eskom.
The case is ongoing.