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Koko blamed for Eskom's acceptance of coal from Gupta-owned mine

Eskom official Gert Opperman says in 2015, Eskom sent Tegeta a letter, raising concerns about Brakfontein’s coal supply to one of the utility’s power station Majuba.

A screengrab of Eskom official Gert Opperman appearing at the Zondo Commission on 8 March 2019.

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom official Gert Opperman has told the state capture commission that the utility’s former executive Matshela Koko instructed him to accept coal from the Gupta-owned Brakfontein Mine even though it failed quality tests.

Opperman returned to the stand at the inquiry in Parktown on Monday.

He said in 2015, Eskom sent Tegeta a letter, raising concerns about Brakfontein’s coal supply to one of the utility’s power station Majuba.

This was after the coal was tested several times and was found to be sub-standard.

Opperman explained why Eskom was concerned about the coal it was receiving from the Gupta-owned Brakfontein Mine.

“One of the quality parameters on this stock pole did not meet the contractual specifications. So, according to the contract, this coal will now be termed reject coal as it is not contracted coal hence it cannot be dispatched.

Despite this, he said he received a call from his Koko who instructed him to accept the coal nonetheless.

“The intent was for me to engage with the power station and get the power station approval to accept this coal.”

He said while he didn’t support this decision, he couldn’t say no to Koko because even his immediate senior manager, didn’t oppose the instruction.

LISTEN: Matshela Koko on Radio702

Opperman also described the culture of fear at the power utility under the leadership of Koko.

When Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo wanted to know why he sign off on the deals even though he knew they were wrong, he said: “I think talking about Mr Koko’s management style and the way he would threaten and all of those things, at the point in time, were a part of your life; when you’re in the corridor you hear how people speak about being intimidated, how some were suspended and even dismissed."

He told the commission he often received direct instructions from Koko to flout procedure and the law

He said while he was trying to be reasonable and do the right thing at Eskom, the environment under Koko didn’t allow for that.

(Edited by Mihlali Ntsabo)

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