Former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter is under severe scrutiny due to a potentially illegal, privately funded covert surveillance operation into the embattled power utility.

As reported by City Press, government institutions, including parliament, the State Security Agency (SSA) and the Public Enterprise’s department, want to know how Eskom secured the services of unvetted operatives who had unrestricted access to sensitive information – all while they were kept in the dark.

George Fivaz Forensic & Risk were selected by de Ruyter to conduct the private investigation instead of four specialist companies that were chosen by Eskom. Two of the companies confirmed to the paper that de Ruyter has never given work to any of the four companies.

It is believed that de Ruyter circumvented SSA protocols essential to initiate an operation of that scale, with the former Eskom CEO ducking mandatory vetting processes throughout his tenure.

Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) member Sakhumzi Moyo previously said that the investigation was a risk to Eskom as the former CEO was also not properly vetted by the SSA.

Speaking at Scopa earlier this week, de Ruyter confirmed that Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) CEO and former Eskom board member Busisiwe Mavuso knew of the investigation.

Mavuso confirmed to News24 that BLSA paid R18 million for the investigation by George Fivaz Forensic & Risk.

Although parliament wants to question the SSA regarding the potentially illegal operation, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, the minister in the presidency responsible for state security, said that SSA did not know about the investigation.

“The involvement of the SSA with Eskom matters has always been, and continues to be, with the Cabinet-appointed Eskom task team, which deals with a variety of issues around the turnaround and repositioning of the power utility,” Ntshavheni said.

“The SSA is therefore not in a position to comment on operatives or anybody else who has allegedly carried out investigations or any other covert work at Eskom.

“The SSA is equally not in a position to comment on any reports or findings by private individuals about the state of affairs at Eskom, as we have not been party to these in the first place.”

Answers potentially coming this week 

Speaking at Scopa, de Ruyter was repeatedly questioned about the identities of a senior minister and another high-ranking politician who he previously alleged were aware of entrenched corruption at the power utility.

However, de Ruyter said that he could not name the individuals as it posed a security risk to himself, could create legal issues, and could defeat the ends of justice by disturbing ongoing investigations.

The former CEO said that Public Enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan was best suited to answer any of the committee’s questions as de Ruyter reported the two senior politicians to him as the shareholder representative of Eskom.

Gordhan will thus speak to Scopa in the coming weeks to address de Ruyter’s allegations. In addition, the security advisor to President Cyril Ramaphosa, Dr Sydney Mufamadi, will also speak before Scopa.

“The committee plans to meet these cited parties to get more information on the allegations made by Mr de Ruyter. Mr de Ruyter has told SCOPA to contact the HAWKS, Mr Gordhan and Dr Mufamadi for further details on the allegations that he made in the eNCA interview,” the committee said.

“He indicated that he reported the identity of a high-ranking politician as well as individuals he referred to in his interview as allegedly involved in criminal activities in Eskom to Mr Gordhan, Dr Mufamadi and the HAWKS.”

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