Eskom CEO labour case struck off the roll

Judge Judge Belinda Witcher said this meant his suspension remained in place.

Eskom CEO Tshediso Matona. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - A Labour Court judge has struck Eskom CEO Tshediso Matona's application challenging his suspension off the roll.

Judge Belinda Witcher said this meant his suspension remained in place.

The court has also found that the Eskom board did have serious concerns about problems at the utility and therefore was justified in suspending Matona.

It said this was despite Matona not having enough time to defend himself.

Judge Belinda Whitcher explained her verdict.

"The only requirement is that the employer must have a prima facie reason to believe the employee in question has done something which gives them reason to suspect misconduct."

Earlier this month, Matona was asked to step aside together with three other top executives for the duration of an independent inquiry into Eskom.

Judge Witcher found that whether the allegations facing Matona were true or not, and regardless of the fact that they weren't disclosed to him at the time of his suspension, they were still very serious.

She has upheld the embattled CEO's suspension and says his argument that being out of work compromises his dignity, does not hold.

ESKOM'S ARGUMENT

Eskom submitted that Matona was unreliable and inconsistent with the information he presented to the board concerning the Kusile and Medupi Power Plants.

The CEO was also accused of failing to come up with concrete plans to deal with the energy crisis as well as the parastatal's financial situation.

Matona however argued he was never accused of any wrongdoing and the submissions in court were fabricated.

The judge said Matona was free to approach the Council for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

Meanwhile, National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) on Friday said the dismissal of more than 1,000 workers at Eskom's Medupi Power Station was procedural and should be reversed.

The workers took part in a one-day strike over accommodation and bonuses this week.

Contractors employing the Numsa members have since dismissed those involved in the stoppage who also previously received written warnings.

Numsa's Castro Ngobese said, "Eskom is a victim of its own creation. It suffers from leadership load shedding. Nowhere in the world can you dismiss workers via SMS. Proper procedures need to be followed when you want to dismiss workers so that your union can represent its members. As Numsa, we are not taking this matter lightly."

Despite the fact that there's an acting CEO and government has stepped in, there's no clear indication as to who is leading Eskom.

Energy expert Chris Yelland said all this came at a critical time for Eskom.

"When Eskom really needs leadership at an operational level, at a financial level, all of these issues are now in the balance."

There are also reports that Chairman Zola Tsotsi has now been given an opportunity to make representations as to why he shouldn't be suspended.

But he is being given a chance to say why he should stay on.