Former senior Eskom employee rubbishes Koko’s corruption accusation

Suspended acting CEO Matshela Koko
Suspended acting CEO Matshela Koko
Image: Freddy Mavunda.

A former senior Eskom employee has hit back at suspended CEO Matshela Koko who accused him of corruption.

France Hlakudi‚ former project manager at Kusile power station‚ claims parts of Koko’s testimony were “incorrect‚ untruthful and defamatory”. He said this in a lawyer’s letter on Thursday.

In a document last week‚ Koko alleged that Hlakudi received a bribe of R61m from Eskom contractor Tubular Construction Projects (TCP). Koko made these allegations during his disciplinary hearing at Eskom’s headquarters in Johannesburg.

Koko said TCP paid the money into the bank account of Hlakudi Translation & Interpretation (HTI) which belongs to Hlakudi.

Koko is facing six charges. One charge is allegedly failing to declare a conflict of interest owing to his stepdaughter Koketso Choma owning shares in a company awarded a tender by a division he led.

Hlakudi said these allegations are “untrue”. He said HTI and TCP entered into a corporate investment agreement on May 1 2012 and it ended on April 30 this year. He said HTI undertook developmental projects for and on behalf of TCP. The investment agreement included supplying computers‚ building a school and refurbishing a church.

Hlakudi said Koko could have verified this information‚ but instead “deliberately mischaracterised” the payments to “deflect attention from his unlawful conduct”. Hlakudi believes Koko should have instituted an investigation or a disciplinary inquiry if he thought he was guilty. He said Koko never issued instructions to remove him from the Kusile power project‚ but instead wanted to move him to another Eskom department.

Koko also referred to an affidavit by Patrice Tiberi‚ a former TCP employee‚ in his testimony. Tiberi said HTI was paid R400‚000.

Hlakudi says the payment was “unsolicited”‚ “not a bribe” and was used for community development projects.

Hlakudi said Tiberi deposed a second affidavit on August 19 this year. According to Hlakudi‚ Tiberi said some of the allegations were “as I (Tiberi) understand the facts at the time‚ but have since realised that some of them could be incorrect”.

Hlakudi believes Tiberi’s alleged u-turn is “at the very least suspicious”. He said “at worst” it indicates Koko used Tiberi to oust him (Hlakudi) from the Kusile power project.

Hlakudi said also replied to allegations Koko made on his last day of his testimony. Koko alleged Hlakudi paid Nombasa Mawela‚ granddaughter of ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe‚ a “retainer” of R978‚000.

Hlakudi said he has a business relationship with Mawela going back several years. Mawela sells broiler chickens to Hlakudi‚ because Hlakudi is involved in chicken farming.

Hlakudi described these allegations as a “last-ditch attempt to obfuscate the issues and deflect attention from himself”.

Koko also alleged that HTI paid Mildred Nyoka‚ a senior contracts manager at Kusile power station‚ R200‚000. Hlakudi said the money was a loan for Nyoka to pursue her postgraduate studies and “effect renovations to her property in preparation for its sale”.

Hlakudi also denied allegations his former bodyguard‚ Ntokozo Dubazana‚ made in an affidavit that he paid money to Sunday Times journalists. Hlakudi said Dubazana was fired on November 13 this year after allegedly stealing R9‚960.

Hlakudi also claimed Koko intimidated and taunted him. Koko reportedly told City Press that he has not been in contact with Hlakudi over the past 10 months.

Hlakudi alleged that Koko sent him two text messages via the app Telegram which self-destructed after a set period. Both messages were in Sepedi and intimidated Hlakudi. Hlakudi took a screenshot of the second message in time.

Hlakudi said in summary that Koko’s conduct “reflects a lack of honesty‚ trustworthiness and integrity” rendering him unfit for public office.

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