/ 9 May 2023

Hawks head says De Ruyter is a ‘suspect’ for not reporting alleged Eskom graft

Nampak Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Andre De Ruyter Interview
Former Eskom chief executive, André de Ruyter. (Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation (Hawks) and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) have suggested that former Eskom chief executive André de Ruyter lied about reporting corrupt activities at the parastatal, in contravention of fraud and corruption legislation.

The Hawks’ head, General Godfrey Lebeya, said De Ruyter is a criminal “suspect” for allegedly flouting the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (Precca), by not disclosing to the Hawks, the involvement of ANC politicians in corruption at Eskom.

De Ruyter made the claims in a February interview with news channel eNCA. He also said there were efforts to interfere with the $8.5 billion promised by France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union for the country’s just energy transition.   

The SIU wants De Ruyter to say why Eskom appointed private investigators to look into graft at the power utility instead of reporting the crimes to the Hawks and the SIU.

Head of the unit, Andy Mothibi, told Scopa that De Ruyter should reveal who funded the investigation and if a report was compiled as a result, it should be made available to the SIU.

Lebeya said De Ruyter only submitted his whistleblower report, in terms of section 34 of Precca, on 25 April, a day before he testified before the same committee. 

In his 27-page presentation, Lebeya said people in senior management at public institutions had “a duty” to report crimes, and that failure to do so was “an offence”.

Addressing De Ruyter’s 25 April report to the Hawks, Lebeya said: “It is important to note that this is the first section 34 report that was reported to the central reporting office on behalf [of] Mr De Ruyter in relation to Eskom corruption allegations. It was received a day before Mr De Ruyter appeared before the standing committee on public accounts.”

Mothibi echoed Lebeya’s assertions, saying De Ruyter had not reported what he had told eNCA to the SIU, which is mandated by President Cyril Ramaphosa to investigate Eskom graft, and that he “never responded to [the SIU’s] attempts for a meeting” after his media interview. 

“In terms of section 34 of [the Act], the former CEO as a person in a position of authority had a legal duty to report the suspicion of crime to the SAPS (South African Police Service). The SAPS official to whom the report is made is required to provide an acknowledgement of receipt after such [a] report is made,” Mothibi said.

“The former CEO should be called upon to provide evidence of such report and the required acknowledgement of receipt as proof of such report.”

Mothibi’s challenge on Tuesday for De Ruyter to provide proof of whether he complied with the law follows the former CEO telling Scopa on 26 April 2023 that he had “taken a number of steps regarding the alleged corruption, to report and cause same to be reported to law enforcement authorities and government officials on the highest level”.  

“These steps include a meeting held on Saturday 4 June 2022 at Megawatt Park with senior police officials, including the national police commissioner, General Fannie Masemola,” De Ruyter said at the time. 

But Masemola said the information De Ruyter provided in June last year was related to progress in investigations the Hawks and the Investigating Directorate of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had already begun, including the R2 billion fraud and corruption case that former Eskom boss Matshela Koko was arrested for in October last year. 

“The information he gave was already available to the authorities. It wasn’t, for me, new,” Masemola said, adding that all the police needed to strengthen in their Eskom work was the investigation into access control at power stations.  

“The only matter he raised [with me] was that of Mr Matshela Koko; that he is aware there is a case, but [it] seems to not be moving or doing anything.”

Asked by ANC MP Bheki Hadebe whether De Ruyter’s section 34 report to the Hawks last month met the requirements of Precca, Lebeya said: “All I can say at this stage is that a report in terms of section 34 has been made to the [the Hawks] a day before he appeared before the Scopa.

“Whether the report complies with the requirements of section 34 – it is an area that one has to be careful when you talk about this publicly, because there was already another case that was reported before [that] there is failure to comply with section 34.”

Lebeya added: “Now, there is a report that has been made, so we wouldn’t like to answer as to whether it complies with the requirements because these things will go on the table of the NPA to decide as to whether the content of [De Ruyter’s report] satisfies the NPA.”