Eskom COO cleared of all wrongdoing in payment dispute with Aveng


Following the court’s findings against Eskom on a payment dispute with contractor Aveng Ltd, Eskom approached Advocate Nazir Cassim seeking his counsel on the way forward in his investigation into an employee’s grievance against Eskom’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) Jan Oberholzer. 

This court judgement, delivered in the South Gauteng division of the High Court on 11 September 2020, was the only outstanding matter related to the aforementioned grievance.

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The employee concerned also made public allegations at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture. Eskom wishes to set the public record straight.

In his investigation report into the grievance against the COO, Adv. Cassim had directed Eskom to conduct a disciplinary action against the COO on the allegation that he had favoured the interests of Aveng (the applicant in the court case) above those of Eskom by pressuring the employee to settle a R40 million invoice due to the contractor. Adv. Cassim had also advised Eskom to await the outcome of the court case before taking any action.

The High Court ruling has now vindicated the COO’s stance on the payment dispute with Aveng. In a subsequent opinion, Adv. Cassim has cleared Mr Oberholzer of all wrongdoing on this matter, which brings the grievance procedure against the COO to finality. 

The Eskom board strongly condemns persistent, unfounded and scurrilous allegations against Mr Oberholzer, which have not only served to distract management’s attention away from the very critical job of correcting the poor performance of Eskom’s generation plant, but have also unnecessarily brought disrepute to Eskom and dragged the name of a key and dedicated employee into non-existent corruption scandals.  

The board wishes to affirm its full confidence in Mr Oberholzer’s integrity and will continue to lend him all the necessary support to enable him to fully perform his job at Eskom.    

Eskom notes the judgement of the high court on the matter involving a payment dispute with contractor Aveng Ltd (the applicant). On 11 September 2020 the South Gauteng High Court ruled in favour of Aveng, ordering Eskom to pay more than R40 million, plus interest until the debt is settled. The court also ordered Eskom to pay the applicant’s legal costs in the case. 

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The case was heard in the Johannesburg division of the high court on 18 May 2020. Eskom will comply with the court order.

Eskom had contracted Aveng for the design, refurbishment, and optimisation of the rail yard and coal offloading facility at the Majuba power station. Five payment disputes arose between the parties, resulting in an independent adjudicator awarding Aveng’s claims against Eskom during April and May 2019. Eskom settled three of the disputes, and on the advice of the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, withheld payment on the remaining two disputes.

When Eskom failed to pay the remaining two claims, Aveng approached the high court to enforce the payment.