Koko ‘intervened to force substandard coal deal’

Date: 12 Mar 2019

Eskom official says he was ordered to accept coal from Gupta-owned mine

THE Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture has once again heard how former Eskom executive Matshela Koko allegedly used his power to enable Gupta-owned Tegeta to supply the utility with substandard coal.

ESKOM official Gert Opperman yesterday accused former chief executive Matshela Koko of ordering him to accept coal from Tegeta’s Brakfontein Mine – even though it had failed quality tests.

Yesterday, Eskom official Gert Opperman returned to the stand where he accused Koko of ordering him to accept coal from Tegeta’s Brakfontein Mine even though it had failed quality tests.

Opperman – who managed the contract – told the commission that in 2015 Eskom had registered a complaint with Tegeta over the poor quality of the coal it supplied to the utility’s Majuba power station.

He said the utility had noted that 50% of the stockpiles of coal had been out of specification, resulting in the rejection of the coal after analysis by the SA Bureau of Standards (SABS).

He said that after the report, a Tegeta executive, Jacques Roux, who had seen the report of the SABS, had called him to try to arrange the delivery of the coal despite the outcomes of the quality check.

“I was engaged by Roux to dispatch the stockpile to Majuba. What made it out of the ordinary is the fact that one of the quality parameters of this stockpile did not meet the contractual specifications. According to the contract‚ this coal would now be termed reject coal and hence it could not be dispatched‚” Opperman said.

He added that after he indicated that Tegeta could not supply the coal, Koko soon intervened in a bid to ensure that the supply continued.

“I received a phone call from Koko asking me that I must please engage the Majuba power station to accept this product. I then engaged my senior at the time and I asked what I must do… He encouraged me to engage the power station‚” he said.

He said he was, however, aware that he was performing the instruction outside the mandate of the contract between Eskom and Tegeta.

“My viewpoint from the onset was not to go along with it. That’s why I was firm when I told Roux we cannot move this coal. For me that was the end of it,” he said.

He said he was shocked by Koko’s instruction, adding that he had hoped his then senior, Vuyisile Ncube, would encourage him to defy the order.

The commission has previously heard from other Eskom officials how Gupta-linked companies were favoured for business by Eskom, including how Tegeta was contracted without the required prior conducting of financial due diligence.

Former Eskom general manager for fuel spend, Johan Bester, said he left the utility in 2015 as he was unhappy with the shenanigans that were taking place at the time.

Bester said he was taken aback when he was summoned into a meeting by then Eskom board chairman, Zola Tsotsi, and instructed to bring his entire team of 143 employees, when he was the acting divisional executive for primary energy in 2014.

   Johan Bester

He said Tsotsi slammed them for frustrating emerging miners, among other things.

By SIVIWE FEKETHA siviwe.feketha@inl.co.za

 

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