Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

Sean Maritz, Eskom’s latest acting CE, acknowledged on Thursday that he had received a written warning on a nepotism charge seven years ago.

But he has denied deleting incriminating information from the utility’s server to help get his boss and friend, Matshela Koko, off the hook, saying Eskom’s information technology system “was built in such a way that no e-mail could be deleted”.

Maritz said he “acknowledged the oversight” of hiring his friend and fellow churchgoer without declaring their friendship. For this he was slapped with a written warning in 2010.

Maritz denied the fixed contract for Koko had been irregular. He said the awarding of the contract had been adjudicated by a panel, as part of Eskom’s internal processes.

The Sunday Times reported that Maritz had been disciplined for hiring a friend and fellow churchgoer on a R100,000-a-month contract in 2010, without declaring their friendship and in contravention of Eskom’s policy on declaring conflict of interest.

The newspaper also reported that Maritz had been accused of deleting e-mails that would incriminate Koko, who is facing a series of charges including failing to declare a conflict of interest involving his stepdaughter.

Koko is accused of irregularly awarding tenders to Impulse International, in which Koketso Choma, his stepdaughter, has a 35% shareholding. Koko, who acted as CE from December to May, also faces charges relating to the irregular R1.6bn contract Eskom awarded to global consultancy McKinsey and the Gupta-linked Trillian.

He is said to be a close friend of Maritz and to have controversially appointed him chief information officer in 2015.

Koko remains on suspension while Eskom has been accused of dragging its feet on his disciplinary hearing. The Eskom board controversially appointed Maritz last week to replace acting CE Johnny Dladla, who had occupied the post for 104 days.

Dladla had been appointed after the dismissal of Brian Molefe following a week-long stint in May, his second as CE.

In a contradictory statement announcing Maritz’s appointment and Dladla’s removal, Eskom said “in order to bring stability”, it would rotate the people who would hold that position until it made a permanent appointment. Sources say Maritz’s hurried installation is designed to smooth the way for the return of Koko, who will appear in a disciplinary process for the first time next week.

In his first hour as CE, Maritz suspended legal department head Suzanne Daniels, who had demanded McKinsey and Trillian pay back the R1.6bn fee Eskom had irregularly paid them in 2016.

Eskom said it had noted McKinsey’s offer to pay back the 2016 fee “in full”, if a court found the contract to have been illegal.

“Eskom’s lawyers are handling the matter, and will in due course advise on the way forward,” the utility said.

mantshantshas@businesslive.co.za 

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