Eskom has confirmed that a senior manager accused of taking bribes to the value of R20 million in exchange for the manipulation of a R1.2 billion contract at Kusile, has resigned.
France Hlakudi was expected to testify in the disciplinary hearing of suspended Eskom interim group chief executive Matshela Koko, but resigned on Monday 13 November, Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe confirmed.
Hlakudi has denied the allegations against him, but did not respond in detail when Moneyweb put it to him. He said he is getting legal advice and could not expand on his denial in the light of investigations by Eskom and the police.
Moneyweb earlier reported that Hlakudi allegedly received bribes to the value of R20 million from construction group Tubular Construction Projects (TCP). In exchange he allegedly conspired with Tubular leaders to oust international power group Alstom (now part of General Electric) from a part of a bigger contract awarded to Alstom relating to the Air Cooled Condensers (ACCs).
Alstom’s contract was as a result descoped (reduced) in 2015 and the contract for the erection of the ACCs for units 4-6 was awarded to Tubular, according to the allegations. Tubular allegedly reduced the tender price from more than R1 billion to R708 million to ensure it remained within the authority of the specific tender committee Hlakudi could influence.
The contract value was increased to R1.2 billion in July this year.
Hlakudi allegedly received the bribes through Hlakudi Translation and Interpretation CC, of which he is the only member.
Moneyweb also reported that a total of R60 million has flowed through the account with large amounts of cash being withdrawn from time to time. This has raised the suspicion of wider irregularities.
Hlakudi was expected to testify in Koko’s disciplinary hearing that is set to resume on November 23.
One of the charges against Koko is that he undermined Hlakudi’s boss Abram Masango, when he by-passed Masango and ordered Hlakudi’s removal from Kusile on February 1 this year without giving proper reasons.
Masango and former Kusile project leader Frans Sithole have been accused of protecting Hlakudi.
Sithole has earlier resigned and Masango, together with Hlakudi, were suspended last week.
Earlier during Koko’s disciplinary hearing Hlakudi indicated that he would only testify if he could be accompanied by his legal representative.
It is not clear whether that is still his position.