Matshela Koko pleads not guilty
The suspended Eskom executive insists he followed protocol and discussed conflict of interest issue with former Eskom chairman Ben Ngubane
Suspended Eskom executive Matshela Koko has pleaded not guilty to six charges levelled against him by his employer in relation to his failure to declare a conflict of interest‚ saying he had written to and discussed the situation with former Eskom chairman Ben Ngubane.
Koko was suspended based on the recommendations of a forensic report after more than R1bn in contracts was awarded to a company‚ Impulse International‚ of which his stepdaughter‚ Koketso Choma‚ was a shareholder through the Mokoni Trust.
At the time the contracts were awarded‚ Koko was the head of generation at Eskom‚ a department that worked directly with Impulse.
After an initial tussle over the charge sheet‚ proceedings in his disciplinary inquiry finally got under way on Wednesday evening at Megawatt Park.
Advocate Frans Barrie SC‚ representing Koko‚ was determined to ensure the charge sheet his client had been presented with in early August had not changed.
Business Day has reported that the charge sheet was changed on numerous occasions.
"Chairman‚ we can confirm that the charge sheet has not been changed and we can now proceed‚" Barrie told the hearing. "I can also confirm that my client pleads not guilty on all charges."
Barrie handed in a written plea in which Koko deals with each charge in detail.
Koko denies that the declaration he had submitted to Eskom in February 2017 declaring Choma’s interest in the Mokoni Trust was inadequately completed in a manner to "mislead Eskom".
"Mr Koko delivered a hard copy of the completed form‚ also submitted in electronic form to Eskom on its intranet system‚ to Ngubane‚ [who was] at the time chairman of Eskom’s board‚" Barrie said.
"Subsequently after Dr Ngubane had sought input from Eskom’s company secretary and corporate counsel‚ Suzanne Daniels‚ he discussed the contents of the document and the background thereto with Mr Koko‚" Barrie continued‚ adding that "Ngubane was satisfied with Koko’s explanation".
"Dr Ngubane in those circumstances‚ accepted and signed off on the form that Mr Koko had submitted."
The document continued to deal with the remaining charges‚ which all related to Koko’s alleged failure to fully declare the conflict‚ or act accordingly to mitigate the risk associated with the work Eskom gave to Impulse.
"Mr Koko at all times acted in what he regarded as the best interests of Eskom‚" Barrie said. "He discussed his concerns and recommendations about these matters with the then group CEO‚ Brian Molefe‚ who agreed with him."
The hearing continues‚ with Eskom’s evidence leader, Sebetja Matsaung, due to call the first witnesses.