The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) today received a report from the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) on the investigations it is conducting at Eskom.

The Chairperson of Scopa, Mr Mkhuleko Hlengwa, said the committee is happy with the progress thus far. “We are happy with the progress but this must also translate into consequence management through successful prosecutions, and in the recovery of losses that the state has incurred,” he said.

Members of the committee also commended the SIU on the work it is doing. Mr Sakhumzi Somyo said the report by the SIU gives the committee hope that things will normalise in as far as Eskom’s operations are concerned.

The SIU reported, among other things, that it has made 39 referrals to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), 32 referrals to the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU), and has assisted Eskom to save R400 million and is hoping to make R8.7 billion in recoveries.

The Head of the SIU, Adv Andy Mothibi, said in some instances, once an investigation is underway, some companies come forward and approach the SIU and Eskom with offers to settle. “In that matter we will make seriously sure that there are no prejudices on the part of Eskom and government in general. We will ensure that any matter that is settled, is settled in the interest of Eskom. The value of matters in which counsel has been briefed is about R3.9 billion of contracts that will be set aside, and we are looking at recoveries of R8.7 billion,” he said.

In response to the report by the SIU, Mr Hlengwa also raised a concern over the issue of people who are constantly resigning when there are investigations, and running away from disciplinary processes. This is something that Scopa has looked at before and it is something the committee will need to pay a particular attention to.

“We need to interact with the Department of Labour, Department of Public Service and Administration, and Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs so that we can tie this down. Consequence management cannot be sacrificed at the altar of an escape on the part of those who do wrongdoing, and then emerge somewhere else. This constant recycling of people in the public service, who have clouds hanging over them, but then the processes are compromised by these resignations, cannot be right,” he said. 

Mr Hlengwa explained that today’s meeting was in preparation for Friday’s meeting, where the committee will interact with Eskom on the basis of the reporting format it has constructed for Eskom. “Consequence management and investigations are at the heart of what we want to see as the key focus for Eskom,” he said.

By Faith Ndenze

 14 October 2020