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SIU pushes for forfeiture of R11m in senior Eskom manager's account

Ernest Mabuza Journalist
The Special Investigating Unit has applied to have R11m in a bank account belonging to a senior Eskom manager forfeited to the state. Stock photo.
The Special Investigating Unit has applied to have R11m in a bank account belonging to a senior Eskom manager forfeited to the state. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/3DRENDERINGS

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) on Thursday pushed for the final forfeiture of the R11m found in a bank account belonging to a company of which suspended senior Eskom official Petrus Mazibuko is the sole signatory.

In May this year, the SIU obtained an interim order freezing the amount in the account belonging to Thephunokhetja Projects.

The sources of the funds deposited were Commodity Logistix Managers Africa and Thembathlo, two companies that provided services to Eskom.

On Thursday, the SIU sought the final forfeiture order.

The case made out by the SIU is that Commodity Logistix Managers entered into a joint venture with Thephunokhetja. After payments were made by Commodity to Thephunokhetja, a bid to Eskom was submitted by Commodity. Then at some point Commodity became a supplier to Eskom.

The SIU's case is that the full extent of the relationship between Commodity and Thephunokhetja – direct or indirect – should have been disclosed to Eskom.

Anthea Platt SC, for the SIU, told the Special Tribunal that investigations found that Mazibuko, Eskom's suspended coal operations senior manager, opened the bank account and signed for it in his capacity as the director of Thephunokhetja.

Platt said Mazibuko failed to disclose this to his employer, Eskom.

Platt said Mazibuko justified his non-disclosure of being a director of the company by saying he was not being paid a salary from that company.

“He has agreed with us that he has not disclosed. Therefore on a balance of probabilities, you have to find he did not disclose,” Platt said.

Platt said Commodity has admitted it is an Eskom supplier and that it concluded a joint venture agreement with a company belonging to Mazibuko's brother, Shadrack Mazibuko – Thepunoketja – before receiving an Eskom contract.

Platt said Commodity had a duty to disclose this relationship and it had not done so.

“In the supplier contract they [Commodity] are enjoined to provide a declaration that they are associated with an employee directly, or somebody related or associated with the employee,” Platt said.

Platt said Commodity and Thembathlo – the two companies which paid millions into a bank account which the SIU has asked to be forfeited – cannot account why these payments were being made and did not provide the tribunal with the defences as to why Petrus Mazibuko is the sole signatory of the account.

However, Moss Mphaga SC, for Mazibuko, said his client was not aware that monies were flowing into the account from the two companies.

“He was not aware about the fact that [two companies] were doing business with Eskom,” Mphaga said.

The SIU's case before the tribunal was weak due to insufficient evidence and he asked for the application for final forfeiture to be dismissed, Mphaga said.

He said Mazibuko did not influence any contract award at Eskom and disputed knowing that Commodity was doing business with Eskom.

Ally Ramawele SC, for Commodity and its two directors Mbulelo Khoza and Phillip Bongani Sibanyoni, said the factual basis on which relief is sought by the SIU was confusing.

Ramawele said on the one hand, the SIU alleges Commodity failed to disclose. On the other hand was an allegation that Petrus Mazibuko helped Commodity to obtain the tender as the company could not otherwise have entered the mining sector because it lacked experience.

“There is no positive allegation against [Commodity]. It is speculation.”

Ramawele said there was no basis of unlawful activities on his clients' part as alleged by the SIU.

Judge Thina Siwendu reserved judgment.

TimesLIVE


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