Eskom witnesses refuse to testify against Koko

Eskom witnesses have reportedly declined to testify against former chief executive Matshela Koko at the internal disciplinary hearing against him, making way for him to be possibly reinstated.

Eskom’s prosecution case against Koko came to a halt at the weekend after its evidence leader Cassim Moosa told chair of the disciplinary hearing advocate Mzungulu Mthombeni that at least five witnesses had refused to testify, according to Business Day. 

Koko is facing an internal disciplinary hearing at Eskom over six charges, including his failure to declare that his stepdaughter Koketso Choma is a shareholder in a company, Impulse International, that was awarded more than R1bn in tenders from Eskom.

After these allegations became public, Koko was suspended from Eskom and the disciplinary hearing has since begun.

Business Day reports that the witnesses who were asked to testify against Koko at the hearing include executives and former executives from human resources and group capital, as well as two former Kusile power station managers.

The case against Koko at the hearing is rumoured to have been rigged in his favour despite the seriousness of the charges against him.

According to Business Day, some witnesses refused to testify against Koko because there has been interference by the Eskom board in the disciplinary hearings and they did not want to aid a process where Koko’s fate had already been predetermined.

Board interference in the hearings emerged earlier when it was reported that the board allowed Koko to choose the officer who would preside over the hearings. A “too junior” evidence leader Sebetja Matsaung was also chosen, despite criticism of his experience and expertise.

Matsaung was later removed after threatening to assault a journalist.

Koko has also been accused of making threats against witnesses.

The disciplinary hearing is taking place at the same time that a parliamentary inquiry into Eskom affairs and its business with the Guptas is being heard.

At the inquiry last week, it was revealed that when Koko was on the brink is suspension earlier this year, public enterprises minister Lynn Brown intervened to keep him on. 

Koko denied on camera in an interview with Carte Blanche in 2016 that a Gupta-owned company had been allowed by Eskom to make a prepayment of R600-million, which would make them the owners of Optimum Coal Mine.

Koko was forced to backtrack when he was shown documents where the deal was signed.

The inquiry at parliament will also investigate the nepotism charge against Koko for the Impulse International tender award.

Koko is set to appear before Eskom’s disciplinary hearing this week.  

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