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Eskom Board Investigates Acting CEO’s Involvement in Alleged R250-Million Fidelity Contract

Published September 21, 2023
9 months ago

Eskom's acting CEO, Calib Cassim, is being investigated by the Eskom board following allegations that he authorised a special payment request pertaining to a security contract with Fidelity services group, according to City Press. The request, initiated by Eskom’s head of security, Karen Pillay, resulted in an alleged payout of R250-million to the security company.

The actual value of the contract with Fidelity has been called into question. While it was initially reported to be about R500-million, Fidelity confirmed that the contract was instead worth around R250-million. Payments made to Fidelity also support this figure instead of the previously speculated half-a-billion rand.

Former Eskom COO, Jan Oberholzer, is alleged to have supported this financial request, according to reports. Public criticism ensued when the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) described the contract as a "self-created emergency", which subverted Public Finance Management Act procedures, leading to mismanagement of public funds and potentially fraudulent activities.

This controversy was furthered by leaks of WhatsApp conversations allegedly between Ms. Pillay and an unidentified service provider, stirring suspicion of intended breakdowns within Eskom power stations. Such subversive activities would necessitate investigations, subsequently given to the service provider amidst a crisis.

Contrasting further investigations, ongoing unions’ wage disputes in June 2022 brought about violence and intimidation towards employees, justifying, to some extent, the need for heightened security.

Karen Pillay, suspended in June 2023, has been thrust further into the limelight with allegations of manipulating the contract in Fidelity's favour. NSA Global, a rival security outfit, alleges that they had initially been approached by Pillay to establish an emergency contract.

Despite the controversial value of the contract, and NSA Global's claim that it should have costed around R30-million, Fidelity Services Group CEO, Wahl Bartmann, confirmed the contract while refuting any involvement in private intelligence gathering for former Eskom CEO, André de Ruyter. Fidelity did acknowledge providing 400 armed guards as part of the security package.

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