Sikonathi Mantshantsha Deputy editor: Financial Mail
Matshela Koko. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
Matshela Koko. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

Suspended Eskom executive Matshela Koko on Thursday accused some of his colleagues of taking bribes from suppliers and said that they had started leaking damning allegations against him in retaliation when he dealt with corruption.

The allegations against him, said Koko, started surfacing when he dealt with corruption on becoming interim CEO. For instance, France Hlakudi, the former Kusile power station project manager, was paid a R61m bribe, Koko said.

He produced a document that showed another R400,000 was paid to Hlakudi Interpretation and Translation — owned by Hlakudi — by Tubular Construction Projects on the day that Eskom’s tender committee approved a tender for Tubular.

The money was transferred into Hlakudi Interpretation and Translation’s bank account in 2015, said Koko.

Koko was testifying in his defence against six charges of conflict of interest and of irregularly removing some of his colleagues from their positions.

Koko also stands accused of having failed to declare that his stepdaughter had held a 35% interest in Impulse International, a company that was awarded Eskom tenders by a division under his leadership.

"Later R38m ... was withdrawn in cash over a period of a few months," said Koko. Asked by Frans Barrie, his defence lawyer, how he knew of this, Koko said the matter was with the police and that he had obtained bank statements.

After the R61m bribe was paid, some Eskom employees received retainers from Hlakudi Interpretation and Translation. One of them was the daughter of ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, said Koko.

"Nombasa Mantashe was paid R978,000 by Hlakudi," Koko claimed.

However, Mantashe said on Thursday that he was the target of Koko’s testimony and not his daughter, and pointed out that she was married and used her matrimonial surname, Mawela, when she was employed at Eskom as a quantity surveyor.

"The name Gwede Mantashe attracts flies," said Mantashe, who told Business Day that Nombasa was on a flight when the paper tried to contact her for comment. Mantashe confirmed that his daughter had left Eskom in 2012.

Eskom spokesman Khulu Phasiwe said he would check whether or not Mawela was still on the utility’s payroll.

Koko said during his testimony he had removed Hlakudi at the R160bn Kusile power station. "I was the CEO and had to solve this, then I was suspended when they started leaking things to the media."

Hlakudi was suspended in November for corruption and resigned immediately. In his resignation letter, he denied the accusations of impropriety.

Koko told advocate Mzungulu Mthombeni he took care to declare anything that could be construed as interests related to him and his family.

mantshantshas@businesslive.co.za

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