Eskom’s graft-accused security head wants package for her exit

Eskom’s graft-accused security head wants package for her exit

ESKOM’s head of security Karen Pillay, who stands accused of corruption, is said to have quietly approached the ​Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration (CCMA), to try and solicit a settlement package after being placed on precautionary suspension over a R500-million security tender.

Pillay was suspended after allegedly awarding an irregular R500-million security tender to Fidelity Security Services. It is alleged she did not following proper processes when awarding the company an unchallenged security contract after using a security report compiled by former police chief George Fivaz – at the request of former CEO Andre de Ruyter – to award the contract to Fidelity without a competitive tender process.

An Eskom source close to the matter said on November 6, Pillay with her attorneys went to CCMA in an attempt to evade accountability, and sought to facilitate an early exit with her complete package.

“There are many professionals who have been forced out of Eskom based on unproven allegations that do not exist, however, their matters have been widely publicised and their packages withheld.

“Others are facing persecution after 6 years yet there’s no indictment nor trial, and no case docket. But for someone like Pillay, no one is making noise although she is accused of irregularly awarding a contract to her friends,” said the source.

Approached for comment, Eskom spokesperson Daphne Mokoena said Eskom would not disclose private and confidential information about its employees to third parties without the necessary consent from the affected employees.

“Eskom is still investigating, among other things, the allegations regarding a R500-million emergency security contract awarded to Fidelity Services. Upon the conclusion of the investigation, a way forward will be determined based on the recommendations from the investigators,” Mokoena said.

The Sunday Independent sought to establish whether the power utility was busy with such a settlement to let Pillay go while she is under investigation, and what consequence management processes the board had undertaken against former CEO Andre de Ruyter and other executives involved in the matter.

They were also asked whether they would pursue the legal process for a court of law to set aside the award and, whether the company that had benefited from the irregular contract would be get blacklisted from doing business with Eskom.

Pillay told the Independent Media’s Investigations Unit that due to the suspension conditions imposed upon her by her employer, she was unable to respond to the questions posed to her.

“I suggest that you direct your queries to Eskom. I would also respectfully like to caution against using or relying on misinformation,” she said.

In previous reports, Eskom stated that it was re-examining the evidence presented around the allegations against Pillay, the origins of the R500 million tender, and Pillay’s alleged involvement.

They said: “In situations of emergency, government departments or state-owned enterprises have the authority to bypass the traditional competitive bidding process and directly engage a single supplier.”

In October 2022, de Ruyter and Pillay allegedly procured and concluded a secret deal paying the Fidelity Services Group R500 million over a three-month period to provide security and collect intelligence at Eskom infrastructure across South Africa.

According to the agreement Fidelity was to supply Eskom with 400 armed guards; aerial surveillance, response services and support, and armoured surveillance and response vehicles.

“Fidelity would also be expected to provide “specialised security guards and technology deployment for intelligence-led protection of identified Eskom assets and infrastructure, located in crime hotspot areas nationally and across Eskom divisions.”

In her defence, Pillay said Fidelity was paid for its services without the knowledge of state security entities because Eskom did not trust the country’s law enforcement agencies.

In June this year, Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) questioned Eskom’s chief procurement officer, Jainthree Sankar, about the process behind the tender and her decision to approve an emergency contract.

Sankar explained that she was not present in the initial meeting with de Ruyter and former Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer, where the extent of the threat to Eskom was determined. She also stated that she did not play a role in selecting the service provider.

She said she merely received instructions from her superiors, who were motivated by an emergency response specifying that Fidelity would be the chosen provider.

But Sankar said with the number of complaints they have since received regarding the process of how the tender was granted from third parties, they have decided to start investigations.