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An opinion from parliament’s constitutional and legal services division has indicated the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) can summons Brig Jaap Burger to appear before it to answer questions on his knowledge of the private Eskom intelligence investigation and report that was commissioned by former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter.

Burger has twice failed to appear before the committee. Based on the legal advice, Scopa chair Mkhuleko Hlengwa said on Tuesday the committee would send a third invitation to Burger to appear. Scopa “will expect a response in seven days and if he is not agreeable to appear, a subpoena will be issued”, Hlengwa said.

Burger was delegated by the national police commissioner, Gen Fannie Masemola, to be the liaison between the SA Police Service and De Ruyter on matters related to the private investigation into corruption and sabotage at Eskom.

André de Ruyter. Picture: BRENTON GEACH/GALLO IMAGES
André de Ruyter. Picture: BRENTON GEACH/GALLO IMAGES

His appearance at Scopa was meant to be part of the committee’s engagements to probe allegations by De Ruyter about the involvement of senior politicians in crime and corruption at the state-owned utility.

De Ruyter first made the allegations during an interview on eNCA on February 21, saying they were based on information from a private intelligence investigation into criminal activity at Eskom.

Burger was first expected to appear before Scopa on June 7, when Masemola told the committee he had instructed Burger to attend and did not know why he had failed to appear.

“He raised some [security] concerns about him appearing publicly, but I said he should still appear [for the meeting],” Masemola said at the time.

In a letter to the speaker of parliament, Burger stated that Masemola had misrepresented his reasons for not attending.


Burger said he had met Masemola on June 5 to “express my concerns in attending the Scopa meeting”, but Masemola failed to inform Scopa of Burger’s reasons, including concerns about Scopa’s authority to consider matters related to criminal investigations.

“The role of Scopa is to consider matters of [a] financial nature ... this does not ... include criminal investigations into organised crime and corruption,” Burger wrote.

He argued that parliamentary oversight on matters relating to Eskom as a national security concern is primarily vested in the joint standing committee on intelligence, as well as the portfolio committees for police, justice & correctional services, and public enterprises.

“None of the concerns raised in Scopa were, according to my knowledge, referred to any of these oversight committees that have appropriate procedures to deal with national security matters,” he said.

Burger said investigations into organised crime and corruption related to matters of national security are classified and therefore not available for public or political scrutiny until presented in court.

He also failed to show up for his next scheduled appearance before Scopa, on September 12. On this occasion Masemola informed the committee in a letter that Burger had retired at end-June and would therefore be unable to attend.

In the legal opinion prepared for Scopa, parliament’s constitutional and legal services division asserted, in response to the issues raised by Burger in his previous letter, that Scopa is legally mandated to consider information related to the financial administration of Eskom.

“Vague and generalised attempts to prevent Scopa from conducting its oversight responsibilities and ensuring accountability of state institutions should be rejected and secrecy should only be allowed in cases where there is a genuine need for such,” the opinion reads.

It finds there is no reason Burger could not raise issues of national security in response to specific questions from committee members as needed.

If Scopa resolves to summons Burger, it must be based on the understanding the information it seeks is not available from any other sources and the information its members may seek from Burger should focus on what he can contribute regarding allegations that can assist Scopa in fulfilling its financial oversight mandate.

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