Telling empowering stories, South Africans want to hear

Wednesday, 15 November 2023 20:48

Scopa hears Fivaz's intelligence dossier not corroborated by State Security Agency (SSA).

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

A retired police officer Brigadier Jaap Burger finally appeared before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) on Wednesday after three no-shows.

Burger was subpoenaed by the watchdog committee after initially refusing to appear before it, on the basis that it lacked a mandate to investigate corruption at Eskom. He suggested that the matter instead belonged before the joint standing committee on intelligence.

He served as the liaison point on intelligence operations initiated by former chief executive Andre de Ruyter.

De Ruyter resigned from Eskom on 12 December last year. 

He was released by the board before the end of his three-month notice period after an explosive television interview in which he agreed with the premise that the power utility served as a "feeding trough" for the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

In an appearance before Scopa in April, he denied that he had gone public with allegations about the scope of corruption at Eskom rather than hand relevant information to law enforcement agencies.

Burger was grilled about the privately funded intelligence investigation, conducted by former police commissioner George Fivaz Forensic and Risk (GFFR), into Eskom on behalf of De Ruyter without Eskom's permission.

The retired police officer told Parliament the Fivaz investigation was done in parallel with the police's own investigations and that he did not receive any intelligence report coming out of the probe.

Burger said allegations of corruption and maladministration at Eskom weren't verified and therefore, nothing further could be done.

He indicated the bits and pieces of broad information that he did receive from Fivaz, in the presence of De Ruyter last year, wasn't validated.

Burger said although Fivaz's intelligence was not corroborated by the State Security Agency (SSA), he passed on the information he obtained to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DCPI), also known as Hawks.

"Most of the information was about the criminality around Eskom. I don't recall anything regarding financial irregularities on Eskom," he told the committee.

Burger, however, highlighted that the information could not be used in this instance and there was nothing further he could do.

The officer said he was aware that the Fivaz investigation was not authorised by Eskom.

"I knew it was not legal and that is why I went and engaged the State Security Agency, specifically the counter intelligence environment, to dig into this to see what is behind it. That is the support I requested from [the SSA] and that is the support that they did not provide.

"I'm not saying the information was gained illegally. They might have sources using private intelligence that might have been gained legally, but the essence of employing a company to work on intelligence for Eskom was, to me, highly irregular," Burger explained.

Burger further told MPs he believed De Ruyter commissioned the private investigation because he did not trust law enforcement agencies nor SSA to "serve him".

Scopa held further meetings into the allegations, with Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, the Eskom board, the Advisor to President Cyril Ramaphosa, Dr Sydney Mufamadi, State Security Agency, Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation, the National Prosecuting Authority, Special Investigating Unit, and the South African Police Service.