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Eskom welcomes 20-year sentences for fraudsters who stole R35m

Ernest Mabuza Journalist
Former Eskom financial controller Mosai Barnard Moraka and Eskom service provider Victor Vilosi Tshabalala have been sentenced to 20 years behind bars after they were found guilty of 53 counts of fraud and theft.
Former Eskom financial controller Mosai Barnard Moraka and Eskom service provider Victor Vilosi Tshabalala have been sentenced to 20 years behind bars after they were found guilty of 53 counts of fraud and theft.
Image: 123RF/Allan Swart

Two men were each sentenced to an effective 20 years in jail for fraud and corruption that cost Eskom R35m.

The Johannesburg specialised commercial  crimes court sentenced former Eskom financial controller Mosai Barnard Moraka and Eskom service provider Victor Vilosi Tshabalala on Tuesday after finding them guilty of 53 counts of fraud and theft.

The court also granted an order wherein both men will forfeit their respective properties to the state.

The properties were placed under a preservation order in November last year and will now be sold, with the proceeds being paid directly to Eskom.

The pair was immediately taken into custody on Tuesday to begin their sentences.

Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter said the sentencing was another welcome milestone in the power utility’s efforts to weed out corruption within its rank.

“While the sums involved in this particular case are relatively modest, the conviction and sentencing of these criminals should send a strong message to all Eskom employees that corrupt elements have no place in the organisation.

“This is only one of the many cases of corruption that Eskom is pursuing involving staff,” De Ruyter said.

The pair was arrested in October 2019 after an investigation initiated by Eskom's audit and forensics department.

The thieves had stolen just under R35m from Eskom in a corruption scam that occurred between January 2016 and September 2018, perpetrated through the creation of fictitious invoices and payments for services not rendered to Meagra Transportation, a company owned by Tshabalala.

Moraka was convicted for fraudulently creating 53 invoices and then paying Meagra Transportation.

The proceeds of the crime were squandered on expensive overseas travel — including holiday trips to places such as Disneyland in the US and Paris, and the acquisition of luxury motor vehicles and other properties.

Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter has welcomed the heavy sentences meted out to two men who defrauded Eskom of about R35m.
Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter has welcomed the heavy sentences meted out to two men who defrauded Eskom of about R35m.
Image: Business Day/Freddy Mavunda

De Ruyter said  what was most pleasing about the judgment was that the taxpayers will recover some of the stolen funds through the sale of the ill-gotten property belonging to the convicts.

Sentencing the thieves, magistrate Emmanuel Magampa said the pair was motivated by greed, and that he had no choice but to impose the guaranteed 20 years' imprisonment for the convictions.

Magampa said the crime of fraud at state-owned companies drained the country's resources through the billions in cash bailouts that the government kept advancing to stricken parastatals.

“As an Eskom employee, Moraka was in a position of trust, which placed in him the duty not only to be vigilant and diligent in dealing with Eskom's resources, but also to be very protective and to jealously safeguard against theft,” said Magampa.

TimesLIVE


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