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Criminal charges laid against Molefe over pension payout fiasco

Feb 06 2018 12:00
Alex Mitchley

Pretoria -  Trade union Solidarity on Tuesday laid criminal charges against former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe and former Eskom board chair Ben Ngubane, relating to what the North Gauteng High Court called an unlawful pension scheme in which Molefe was awarded a multimillion rand pension. 

In January 2018, a full bench of judges found that Molefe’s declaration that he had not resigned from the power utility was false, and he had never been entitled to the pension money.

Molefe was ordered to pay back the R11m he has already received. 

Solidarity chief executive Dirk Hermann said the trade union was laying criminal charges because the high court had found that the pension scheme devised by Eskom and Molefe was unlawful.

The complaint was lodged at Garsfontein police station in Pretoria. 

“It is clear from the course of events that Molefe and Ngubane colluded to devise the unlawful payout. Its final approval was given under Ngubane’s signature and was done in terms of a provision that was not applicable,” said Hermann.

“They both knew that Molefe did not qualify for a pension fund payout but nonetheless made deliberate misrepresentations.”

Hermann said the charges focus on fraud as the pension scheme was allegedly designed to unlawfully benefit Molefe. 

Solidarity has also laid charges with the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority, as well as with the South African Police Service. 

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Further investigations

The trade union has also asked the Hawks to investigate other top Eskom executives, including Anton Minnaar, the power utility's executive support manager, as well members of Eskom's remuneration committee because they allegedly failed in their legal duty to disclose unlawful activities.

Hermann said the specific charges come against the backdrop of state capture as outlined in former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's ‘State of Capture’ report. 

“[The report] actually initiated a lot of actions, but [those actions] separate because the fact of the matter is at this stage there is a proper investigation of state capture, there is parliamentary processes ongoing at this stage and we are satisfied with that,” said Hermann. 

"This specific case boils down to fraud and implicates these specific individuals and that must be tackled as well,” he said. 

Hermann added that if Molefe were to pay back the R11 to Eskom, this would not affect the criminal complaint against him.

The fact that the former Eskom CEO has applied for leave to appeal against the judgment which ordered him to pay back the money has no bearing on the criminal case either, he said. 

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