Eskom sub-contractor arrested for allegedly soliciting bribe from coal truckers

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17th October 2023

By: News24Wire


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An Eskom sub-contractor was arrested last week for allegedly trying to solicit a bribe from a coal transport company at the Camden power station in Mpumalanga.

The suspect, who was arrested on 11 October, was a sub-contractor for the power utility's Eskom Rotek Industries subsidiary, which does construction, maintenance and transportation services.

Eskom said on Tuesday that he stopped a coal truck driver headed to the station, and alleged the driver had off-loaded higher-grade coal somewhere else, and mixed it with rocks. He jumped into the truck with the driver and showed him three rocks he claimed came from the truck. The suspect then said he would halt the truck, along with two others in the queue.

"The suspect then demanded that the driver contact his employer. The driver contacted his supervisor at the coal transporting company who then spoke to the suspect who attempted to solicit a bribe by requesting a sum of R6 000 (R2 000 for each truck), after which he would allow the coal to be offloaded," Eskom said.

"Despite the supervisor not acceding to the suspect’s demands, the trucks were allowed to off-load the coal."

Eskom said the coal that was delivered was the correct grade.

The conversation between the driver, the suspect and the supervisor was captured through a camera system in the truck.

“The suspect … confessed to soliciting a bribe and was arrested and detained at the Ermelo Police Station.”

He appeared before the Ermelo Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.

While these trucks were transporting the correct coal, coal smuggling syndicates have been a consistent problem for Eskom. Often, trucks transporting coal to power stations are diverted to specific coal yards, and high-quality coal is swapped out for low-grade product, scrap or rocks. When the lower-grade products are used at the station, they cause infrastructure damage, rendering them unable to generate electricity, leading to more load shedding.  

The South African Revenue Service (Sars) announced last week that it led a large-scale government search and seizure operation against several alleged members of coal smuggling syndicates across the country, including former Eskom employees.

Sars said it established that the suspects had contravened several tax laws, including non-registration for income tax, failure to submit tax returns, under-declaration of income, claiming undue VAT refunds, and making false submissions.

Sars put the loss of revenue to the fiscus by the syndicates at over R500-million.

Edited by News24Wire



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