A whopping R65 million.
That’s the value of the fraud allegedly committed by a former Eskom employee, who was put in charge of a project aimed at providing low-cost electricity services in Khayelitsha.
Details of the case against 59-year David Malherbe of Gordon’s Bay emerged in the Western Cape High Court this week in an application the Asset Forfeiture Unit had lodged – which was heard behind closed doors – for an order to attach his assets and that of his company, Energy Utility Services (EUS).
Judge James Yekiso granted the order on Tuesday and, by Thursday morning, when Malherbe was formally notified of the order, members of the police’s Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigations (DPCI) placed him under arrest.
He appeared in the Bellville Commercial Crimes Court that morning, where he was formally charged before being released on R10 000 bail.
It is alleged that he and EUS defrauded Eskom of R65m, using the money to bankroll the lavish lifestyle he and his wife had.
In papers before the court, deputy director of public prosecutions, Gcobani Bam and DPCI investigator Piet Viljoen said the Khayelitsha project which Eskom had appointed Malherbe to head was the brainchild of Eskom, French electricity authority Electricté de France International SA (EDFI), and English company East Midlands Electricity (EME) plc.
The three electricity authorities established Phambili Nombane Pty Ltd, now known as PN Energy Service (PNES), through a joint general co-operation venture launched in 1993, and became its shareholders.