Matshela Koko sues South Africa’s NPA, implicates Eskom’s incoming GCE in Kusile corruption case

By Elena Kachkova in Johannesburg February 28, 2024

In a surprising development, Matshela Koko, a former interim CEO of the South African state-owned electricity utility Eskom, has taken the country’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to court a bid to revoke the non-prosecution agreement it made with a multinational corporation ABB.

Court documents reveal assertions by Koko, who claims to have been designated as the scapegoat in the arrangement, alleging that incoming Eskom Group Chief Executive (GCE) Dan Marokane provided confidential information to ABB between 2014 and 2017, Green Building Africa has reported.

ABB is implicated in a bribery scandal involving a senior Eskom executive who helped the corporation procure inflated fraudulent contracts during the construction of the Kusile power station in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa.

However, the corporation made a deal with the NPA to avoid direct prosecution in South Africa. ABB agreed to pay ZAR2.5bn ($130mn) in punitive reparations in a settlement in 2022, which meant it was no longer an accused. This was over and above the ZAR1.6bn that ABB previously paid to Eskom in 2020.

The NPA’s Investigative Directorate (ID) arrested Koko in October 2022, having identified him as the Eskom official responsible for supplying confidential information to ABB. The case, which included allegations of fraud, corruption, and money laundering related to Eskom contracts valued at ZAR2.2bn (about $146mn), was dismissed by the Middleburg Specialised Crime Court in November 2023 due to “unreasonable delays.”

The application to have the case struck off the roll was brought by Koko’s defence who argued that the NPA had wasted time and arrested the accused prematurely. Koko has subsequently filed court papers in the Johannesburg High Court requesting that the non-prosecution agreement between the NPA and ABB be revoked and deemed invalid, unconstitutional, and void.

According to Koko, the NPA was adamant about bringing him to justice while clearing ABB. He also claims that the two sides conspired to fabricate evidence against him. In his affidavit, Koko implicated Eskom new GCE Marokane as the real “ABB man inside Eskom” who at the time was group executive as head of capital.

“In truth, I never held a position of authority and influence over the Kusile project. I could not have been the puppet master of the entire corruption scheme at the Kusile project,” Koko said in his affidavit, as quoted by News24.

“Eskom's group capital division has the delegation of authority to oversee all mega projects in Eskom, including the Kusile project. The accountable group executive for group capital division in 2014 was Dan Marokane.”

Marokane’s lawyer has confirmed that his client is indeed aware of the allegations made by Koko. “The ABB-Koko matter is being handled by the NPA. He remains available to the NPA if required,” he told News24. The NPA has not yet made an official response in this matter.

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