/ 19 October 2022

R3.8-billion Eskom lawsuit against Matshela Koko, Brian Molefe stalls

​Former acting Eskom CEO Matshela Koko.
Former acting Eskom CEO Matshela Koko. (Madelene Cronje/M&G)

Difficulties with securing a court date have stalled the R3.8-billion civil claim against Eskom’s former executives — including Matshela Koko, Brian Molefe and Anoj Singh — to recover losses “as a result of state capture”. 

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU), which is pursuing lawsuits against the energy parastatal’s allegedly corrupt former executives, is also waiting for an executor to be appointed for the estate of former Eskom chairperson Ben Ngubane for the estate to also form part of the civil claim. Ngubane died in July last year. 

The matter has stalled since August 2020, when the SIU first filed its combined 73-page summons in the Pretoria high court. 

On Wednesday, SIU investigator Leonard Lekgetho, who was addressing parliament’s standing committee on public accounts, said the need to recover the billions of rand stemming from the 2015 purchase of Optimum coal mine by the firm Tegeta, which was owned by the controversial Gupta family

Tegeta would have taken on Optimum’s coal supply contracts to Eskom, but the contract expired in September 2016, Lekgetho said. 

“Eskom is only pursuing claims against seven former Eskom executives and directors: the late Dr Ngubane, Mr [Mark] Pamensky, Mr Molefe, Mr Singh, Mr Koko, Ms [Chwayita] Mabude and Ms [Suzanne] Daniels, based on breach of fiduciary duties and breach of contract,” Lekgetho said, adding that the losses accrued by Eskom were “as a result of state capture”. 

The SIU investigator added that the civil claim was placed under judicial case management by Eskom and, following a September 2021 meeting, a future date was recommended to deal with objections and delays from the defendants.  

“There has been difficulty securing a date with the judge, and efforts to do so are ongoing. An executor has yet to be appointed for the estate of the late Dr Ngubane,” Lekgetho told the parliamentary committee. 

Lekgetho said the SIU was advised against pursuing a R734-million damages claim from the directors of Tegeta “as a result of damages suffered due to the poor quality of coal that was supplied”, because prospects of winning were “poor”. 

The alleged poor quality of coal was part of the now-cancelled R3.7-billion agreement between Eskom and Tegeta for Eskom’s Majuba power station.   

Explaining the damages suffered by Eskom, Andy Mothibi, the head of the SIU, told the committee about how Eskom officials facilitated contracts with coal suppliers despite concerns raised by technical experts on the coal’s quality. 

“A number of technical reports questioned the suitability of coal from the Brakfontein mine for the Majuba power station, and the ability of the mine to produce the required quantities. Despite these concerns, a contract was entered into with Tegeta at an inflated price,” Mothibi said. 

“The mine delivered non-compliant coal from areas that are not stipulated in the contract. This is achieved by manipulating pre-certification processes at the mine.”