Sikonathi Mantshantsha Deputy editor: Financial Mail
Ben Ngubane. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Ben Ngubane. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

Eskom chairman Ben Ngubane says unsubstantiated media reports filled with conjecture meant the company had to respond with the facts by releasing the Dentons report on the state of the company.

The board's concern about the general deterioration of the utility amid weighty challenges had prompted it to appoint law firm Dentons to undertake a fact-finding mission on the board's behalf.

The report followed a probe commissioned by Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown early in 2015, and has been kept under wraps since. 

Eskom said on Tuesday it had decided to release the Dentons report in order to do away with innuendo and conjecture.

Although it had committed to release the report publicly, it was decided that the timing was not conducive to publishing the report.

"Contrary to what has been reported, the board did not at any stage interfere with the probe," said Ngubane.

To suggest that the board interfered in the investigation was not an insult only to the individual members of the board, but also to Dentons, which is the largest law firm in the world measured by the number of lawyers, said Ngubane.

Eskom company secretary Suzanne Daniels said the report would be released only to organisations and individuals that had requested it in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act. The utility would immediately expedite the process of the PAIA applications at its offices.

A Dentons representative said the report was illegally in the public domain. "We will investigate how [it] reached the public domain," said Noor Kapdi, the managing partner of the firm in SA, speaking at the same media briefing.

He said the report, which Eskom had initially committed to publishing, was secured at Eskom and should not be in the public domain.

"This security has obviously been breached and we need to find how that happened, " Kapdi said.

The Dentons investigation resulted in Eskom’s then newly appointed CEO Tshediso Matona quitting after four months on the job. Finance director Tsholofelo Molefe and group capital executive Dan Marokane also parted ways with the utility while they were still on suspension.

They had all been in their positions for less than a year, and the three were paid a collective golden handshake of R22m upon departure.

They had been suspended together with Matshela Koko, who was chief procurement officer at the time. He later returned to his job, and has been appointed acting CEO.

Eskom had emphasised that the individuals were never found guilty of any wrongdoing, and were not the subject of the investigation.

In the same year that the probe was commissioned, the government was forced to bail out Eskom with a R23bn cash injection, and by converting R60bn of debt owed to equity.

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