Corruption accused Koko pleads poverty, says prosecution will fail

Former Eskom boss and seven other accused, including wife and stepdaughters, get bail during court appearance

Isaac Mahlangu Senior reporter
Eskom's former interim chief executive Matshela Koko and co-accused appeared in court for fraud, corruption and money laundering in relation to projects at Kusile power station
Eskom's former interim chief executive Matshela Koko and co-accused appeared in court for fraud, corruption and money laundering in relation to projects at Kusile power station
Image: Ziphozonke Lushaba

Former Eskom boss Matshela Koko was on Thursday released on R300,000 bail after a marathon hearing in the Middelburg specialised commercial crimes court, where he pleaded poverty.

Koko's lawyer Siphelele Zwane unsuccessfully argued that his client was unemployed and could afford only R50,000 bail.

The state argued that Koko had committed schedule five offences, including  five counts of corruption, one of fraud and another of money laundering.

The prosecutor, who cannot be named as per an order by magistrate Deon van Rooyen, argued that Koko was facing serious charges which carry a 15-year jail sentence if he's found guilty.

Koko is charged alongside his wife Mosima and stepdaughters Koketso Aren and Thato Choma. The other accused are former SA Local Government Association (Salga) CEO Thabo Mokwena, Eskom project director at Kusile, Hlupheka Sithole — who the NPA described as the most senior person on site — lawyer Johannes Coetzee and Watson Seswai, an employee at Impulse, a company implicated in the alleged corruption. They too were charged and released on bail.

All the other accused, except stepdaughters Choma and Aren, Koko's wife Mosima and Coetzee, were released on R300,000 bail.

Mosima, Aren, Coetzee and Choma were charged for schedule one offences and got R70,000 bail.

The matter was postponed to March 23 for further investigation.

Before proceedings started, Koko was asked by reporters how he felt. 

He replied: “They're setting themselves up for failure”.

Explaining the context of the matter, which involves R2.2bn, the investigating directorate said: “In 2009, Eskom contracted with Alstom to undertake the C&I (control and instrumentation) contract at Kusile power station. Alstom did not perform. Eskom engineers recommended that Siemens be appointed. The state alleges that the group executive for technology and commercial, Koko, influenced and abused his position to have Siemens, Billfinger-Mauell and ABB invited to bid for a closed tender.

“Mauell dropped out of the tender process and ABB SA was eventually appointed in 2015. ABB was awarded the C&I multimillion-rand contract. The state alleges that it then resulted in ABB SA appointing a company owned by Thabo Mokwena to provide skills development and industrialisation work to the value of R96m,  excluding VAT.

“In 2016 four variation orders were granted to ABB SA, by Sithole to provide extra work not covered in the initial multibillion-rand C&I contract. The state alleges that money flowed from the contract and that this was the first attempt to launder money on behalf of Koko.

In 2015-2017 several contracts were awarded of which four form part of this matter for Impulse International. They were for providing Eskom and Rotek Industries with SAP work packages, specialised engineers and managers to oversee the different interphase contractors, among other functions. The state further alleges that a portion of these contracts was used to 'butter hands'.” 

The investigating directorate has alleged that the money-laundering vehicles were set up by Coetzee to siphon money from Impulse International to benefit the Koko family.


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