May 10, 2023


5 min read

Everyone knew about the intelligence files - De Ruyter rebuts Hawks boss

Everyone knew about the intelligence files - De Ruyter rebuts Hawks boss

Former Eskom CEO, André de Ruyter

Story highlights

    Earlier, Gordhan confirmed to local media that De Ruyter briefed him on the contents of the files
    De Ruyter claims he also reported the matter to then Interim Chair of Eskom Holdings SOC, Prof Makgoba

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“GIVEN the broad spectrum and large scale of malfeasance, I have taken a number of steps regarding the alleged corruption, to report and cause same to be reported to law enforcement authorities and government officials on the highest level.”

These were the words of former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter, shared via text messages with Daily Maverick on the afternoon of May 9.

De Ruyter was responding in the main to the statement of Hawks head, General Godfrey Lebeya, who had just given testimony before the parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) that the relevant authorities had not been informed in due course.

According to Lebeya, De Ruyter had only provided a report to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) on April 25, 2023, the day before the former CEO himself had testified before Scopa.

If true, given that De Ruyter had formally left the power utility on February 28— after an explosive interview on eNCA had resulted in the curtailment of his notice period — this would have placed him in contravention of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (Precca), which requires a public official to report evidence of corruption that involves amounts greater than R100 000.

De Ruyter explained to Daily Maverick, however, that it was “incorrect” that he did not fulfil his duties under the act.

“[The steps I took] include a meeting held on Saturday June 4 2022 at Megawatt Park with senior police officials,” he informed us, “including the National Police Commissioner, General Fannie Masemola, and representatives of the State Security Agency, where I requested the assistance of both SAPS and SSA to investigate corruption at Eskom, and to assist Eskom in combating crime.  

“Following this meeting, a police brigadier (whose identity I leave to SAPS to disclose for reasons of security) was designated by General Masemola to be the liaison with the intelligence operation. This officer has had full access to all of the intelligence gathered and has stated to me that he has kept his line command informed.”

While De Ruyter would not disclose the identity of the brigadier to us, it emerged during the Scopa hearings that it was a certain “Brigadier Burger”, and that he had indeed been in possession of the cited private sector intelligence files since the winter of 2022.

To back up his allegation that the Hawks had been informed of the intelligence reports too, De Ruyter provided us with the following statement:

“Additionally, since changes were made to the management of the Hawks in Mpumalanga, similar exchanges have been held with senior commanders in the province, and I am informed that all applicable information has been put at their disposal.”

The ‘sharing of information’

Significantly, during the Scopa hearings, which included representations from top-level members of the South African Police Service, the Special Investigating Unit and the Hawks, questions were asked by MPs about the “sharing of information” between divisions of the security establishment.

The explicit challenge put to the various commanders was how, in a matter as critical as the existence of criminal syndicates within Eskom — which none of the commanders denied — some were admitting possession of the intelligence files while others were not.

But, according to De Ruyter, it wasn’t just members of the security cluster with whom he had shared information from the files.

“I also reported the matter to the then Interim Chair of Eskom Holdings SOC, Prof Malegapuru Makgoba,” he told Daily Maverick. “I [later] informed the new board of Eskom of the intelligence operation at a meeting held at the Eskom Academy of Learning in November 2022.”

As for Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, scheduled to appear before Scopa on May 17, and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s national security adviser, Sydney Mufamadi, who will appear on May 23, De Ruyter was unequivocal about the timing of his initial engagements.

“Furthermore, on July 5, 2022, I attended a meeting with the [National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure, NatJoints] at the SAPS College in Pretoria, where I shared high-level concerns about corruption and theft in Eskom with the National Police Commissioner and his staff and offered to make available the intelligence to designated individuals.

“On the same date, I reported the findings to the shareholder representative, Minister Pravin Gordhan, and to the National Security Adviser, Dr Sydney Mufamadi. The main findings were shared with the latter two officials.”

Back in February, Gordhan confirmed to local media that De Ruyter had briefed him on some of the contents of the intelligence files — specifically, the allegation that Cabinet members were implicated — but that he had dismissed these as “allusions”.

Although De Ruyter informed us that he “does not know” whether Gordhan and Mufamadi “reported this to their principals,” he referred us to Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address of February 2023, where the following was stated:

“The South African Police Service (SAPS) has established a dedicated team with senior leadership to deal with the pervasive corruption and theft at several power stations that has contributed to the poor performance of these stations. Intelligence-driven operations at Eskom-related sites have so far resulted in 43 arrests.”

Everyone knew about the intelligence files - De Ruyter rebuts Hawks boss

SA National Police Commissioner, General Fannie Masemola

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Everyone knew about the intelligence files - De Ruyter rebuts Hawks boss

SA Public Enterprises Minister, Pravin Gordhan

The conclusion that De Ruyter drew from Ramaphosa’s address, as conveyed to Daily Maverick, was this:

“The fact that these arrests have taken place, and that a dedicated team has been established, is corroborative evidence that intelligence related to alleged corruption has been shared with law enforcement authorities and that they are acting on it.”

Finally, De Ruyter referred us to section 34 of Precca, which is clear in its legislative intent.

“(1) Any person who holds a position of authority and who knows or ought reasonably to have known or suspected that any other person has committed —

(a) an offence under Part 1, 2, 3 or 4 or section 20 or 21 ( in so far as it relates to the aforementioned offences) of Chapter 2; or

(b) the offence of theft, fraud, extortion, forgery or uttering a forged document, involving an amount of R100,000 or more, must report such knowledge or suspicion or cause such knowledge or suspicion to be reported to any police official.”

His concluding comments, again in relation to the allegations of General Lebeya, were a reiteration of his belief that he had fulfilled his fiduciary duties.

“If you then refer to the regulations under the SAPS Act, a separate office is created for reporting,” De Ruyter noted. “I would argue that the National Police Commissioner and his delegated officers meet the definition of ‘any police official’.

“The fact that I sent a report to the Hawks to comply with the Regulation is a formality. Also note that S34 does not impose a time limit for reporting.” DM


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