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NPO opens criminal case for capture of Eskom

Dec 07 2017 21:15
Angelique Serrao

Johannesburg - Non-profit organisation Forensics for Justice has opened a criminal case against a range of top government executives and Gupta associates in relation to the alleged capture of the Eskom board.

In a sworn statement executive director of Forensics for Justice, Sarah-Jane Trent, opened the case against former chair of SAA Dudu Myeni, Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown, President Jacob Zuma, Nicholas Linnell, Tony Gupta, Salim Essa, Ben Ngubane and Thalente Myeni, using a statement made by ex-Eskom chair Zola Tsotsi at the parliamentary enquiry into the capture of Eskom. 

The statement said that Linnell in 2011 was hired by Myeni to "fix" publicity issues following “her gross misconduct” at the Mhlathuze Water Board. He was again hired by Myeni in 2014 and 2015 for a number of different jobs at SAA. According to Tsotsi’s testimony he was also hired by Eskom to assist in getting rid of certain board executives. 

Trent said that Linnell claims to be a lawyer, yet he does not appear to be on the South African law society registers.

She said that Linnell in 2015 had been paid more than R850 000 by SAA with no procurement processes being followed and that this made the payments fruitless and wasteful expenditure. Trent said he was purporting to carry out background checks and investigations into forensic consultant Paul O’Sullivan and suspended SAA CEO Monwabisi Kalawe. 

“I have checked with the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) and it is apparent that Linnell is not registered with PSIRA to carry out investigative work, which is a criminal offence,” the statement said.  

In 2015 City Press reported on Myeni hiring Linnell as SAA’s Mr Fix-It at an average cost to the airline of R167 000 a month. 

The story indicated that invoices seen by City Press suggested that Linnell was reviewing forensic reports, writing media statements, drafting letters to ministers and lobbying police for a high-level investigation into O’Sullivan. 

UK investigation 

This week British parliamentarian Lord Peter Hain called for an investigation into any bank accounts held in London by South Africa’s state-owned entities. 

In a speech presented in the House of Lords before a money laundering bill committee, the Parliamentarian mentioned the "shadowy figure" of Nick Linnell who he also described as a "Mr-Fix-It", who in the 1970s operated in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). 

"It has now emerged that South African Airways, through dubious unauthorised payments to Mr Nick Linnell working hand-in-glove with the remnants of South Africa’s notorious apartheid police, have deliberately targeted well-known anti-corruption activists," Hain said in his speech.  

Hain said this resulted in unlawful arrests, detention and torture to stop them from exposing systemic state-sponsored corruption. 

"There should be an immediate investigation, by the City of London Police, the Metropolitan Police and the financial regulatory authorities, into all bank accounts held in London by any South African state-owned company," he said.  

Trent’s statement looked into some of the evidence made by Tsotsi in the parliamentary enquiry, which alleged that:

- Tsotsi was unlawfully pressurised to do the bidding of Tony Gupta by threatening him with the loss of his position as Eskom chairperson

- Linnell was unlawfully appointed in an advisory capacity to the board chair of Eskom

- Linnell was allowed to unlawfully prepare letters of suspension for the purpose of unlawfully targeting certain executives at Eskom.

Tsotsi also testified that a meeting took place at Brown’s house where Gupta and Essa were present, which Brown denied. 

READ: Tsotsi drops Myeni/Zuma meeting bombshell at Eskom Inquiry

“It is clear to me now, and must be clear to the whole country, that the suspects acted with a common purpose in creating an enabling environment so that Gupta family businesses could capture Eskom for their own nefarious reasons, including fraud and corruption on a massive scale,” the statement said.

The suspects, acting with a common purpose, did unlawfully and intentionally intimidate and manipulate Tsotsi and in so doing brought about the unlawful suspension and subsequent removal of some Eskom executives, she said. 

Brian Molefe, Anoj Singh and Ben Ngubane then took control of Eskom “and proceeded to criminally strip the assets of Eskom, to the benefit of the Gupta controlled companies”.

Trent said the suspects acted in a criminal enterprise and should be charged with racketeering and theft of Eskom’s assets. 

She also requested additional investigations into the alleged conduct of State Security Minister Bongani Bongo and the current chair of Eskom, Zethembe Khoza.

Bongo is alleged to have called the evidence leader in the parliamentary enquiry, Advocate Ntuthuzelo Vanara, and offered him an open-cheque bribe to derail the parliamentary enquiry. 


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