“The contract was approved for R745m to build two air-cooled condenser units at Kusile power station.

Two former Eskom executives and two other men were granted bail of R300,000 each after appearing in court on Thursday in  relation to a R745m fraud, corruption and money laundering case involving the construction of the Kusile mega power plant.

Ex-Kusile contract manager Mangope Hlakudi and his then boss, Eskom’s former executive of group capital, Abram Masango, appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court with their co-accused, Tubular Construction CEO Antonio Jose da Costa Trindade and Maphoko Kgomoeswana.

They were arrested earlier on Thursday in Mpumalanga, Limpopo and Gauteng by the police’s elite Hawks unit and the National Prosecuting Authority’s investigating directorate.

At the time of writing, a fifth accused was said to be still at large.

The Hawks and NPA said in a joint statement that investigations began when suspicions were raised about the construction of the new multibillion-rand coal power stations Medupi, in  Limpopo, and Kusile, in Mpumalanga.

The arrests came after SA experienced almost two weeks of rolling blackouts, with Eskom at one point having to resort to unprecedented stage six load-shedding due to lack of capacity.

The state-owned utility, which supplies virtually all SA’s power, is hamstrung by staggering debt from the construction of the two mega plants, maintenance issues and design flaws at Medupi and Kusile.

Ratings agencies have identified the state power utility as the single largest risk to the economy.

The Hawks and NPA said their investigation revealed that there was “apparent gross manipulation of contractual agreements” between contractors, Eskom employees and third parties at Kusile.

Magistrate Albertus Roux said on Thursday that the crimes the four were accused of were not only against the complainants, but against the community near the power station.

The matter was postponed to May 25, when it will resume in the Specialised Commercial Crime Court, sitting in Palm Ridge.

Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said all the accused were allegedly linked to fraudulent contracts and corruption amounting to R745m around the construction of Kusile.

Mulaudzi said the arrests were linked specifically to an incident in June 2015 when an allegedly fraudulent contract was submitted by the Kusile project management team to Eskom’s procurement committee.

The project management team had sought to negotiate and conclude the contract with a particular company.

“The contract was approved for R745m to build two air-cooled condenser units at Kusile power station.

It is alleged that from February 2015 to July 2017, the appointed companies, other related entities and individuals shared about R30m among themselves,” Mulaudzi said in a statement.

_HeraldLive

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“The contract was approved for R745m to build two air-cooled condenser units at Kusile power station. Two former Eskom executives and two other men were granted bail of R300,000 each after appearing in court on Thursday in  relation to a R745m fraud, corruption and money laundering case involving the construction...