Two former Eskom executives implicated in state capture at Eskom have reacted with anger and bemusement at the news that the electricity utility and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) have initiated steps to recover the money.
Eskom said in a statement on Monday that it had applied for a summons in the high court in Pretoria to recover funds from former Eskom executives and board members, along with members of the Gupta family and their associates.
Former Eskom group CEO Brian Molefe, CFO Anoj Singh, former group executive of generation Matshela Koko and company secretary Suzanne Daniels are among the erstwhile executives named in the Eskom statement.
“I think it’s a singular act of cowardice,” said Molefe.
“They went to court and I presume put in the particulars of what their claim entails. And before we could have sight of their summons, they issued a press statement. That puts us in the position of having to respond to queries without having seen the documents.”
Molefe said he felt “disempowered” by Eskom’s move.
“We have nothing to respond to because we haven’t seen the documents. Yet they have painted a picture of some kind of guilt on our side.”
He said Eskom’s statement amounted to contempt of court as the utility made the statement before giving the documents to all parties.
He also claimed it was the first time he had heard about the SIU investigation.
“They have never interviewed me to seek clarification on anything,” he said.
Molefe criticised public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan for what he alleged amounted to disrespecting the constitution for saying that Eskom’s move was a victory.
“People are presumed innocent until proven guilty,” he said.
Former Eskom chief financial officer Anoj Singh said it was too soon to comment on the SIU’s investigation.
“It’s a bit premature at this moment because we haven’t received the papers,” he said.
Singh said he was ready to go through the process as it would afford him the chance to respond to the allegations.
“At the end of the day, we had a job to do. They have a job to do and they must do it. We then have the opportunity to respond and we shall do so.”
Other defendants include businessman Salim Essa and Rajesh Tony Gupta, Atul Gupta and Ajay Gupta.
Eskom aims to recover some R3.8bn in funds which it says were illegally diverted from Eskom to help the Gupta family and its associates to acquire the Optimum mine, which had a contract to supply coal to Hendrina power station in Mpumalanga.