Eskom's Koko insisted we accept sub-standard coal, Zondo hears

Gert Opperman says this was the first time that this had happened to him

Eskom's Koko insisted we accept sub-standard coal, Zondo hears

11 March 2019

The state capture commission has heard evidence that former top Eskom executive Matshela Koko personally called the manager of a Gupta-linked coal supply contract, insisting that sub-standard coal be delivered to Majuba power station.

Koko is the former acting CEO and former head of generation at the power utility.

The inquiry was continuing with evidence from Gert Opperman, a coal supply unit manager at the power utility.

Opperman told the commission that in April 2015 he took over the management of the Brakfontein colliery coal contract.

The colliery, near Delmas in Mpumalanga, was owned by Tegeta Exploration and Resources, a Gupta firm.

Opperman said in September 2015 a stockpile of coal from the colliery was out of specification and according to the contract it could not be delivered to Majuba power station.

He said he told the mine that the coal would need to be reprocessed, or, alternatively, the mine could declare a dispute with Eskom.

After informing Tegeta that the coal was out of specification, he said he was called by the top Eskom executive.

“I received a phone call from Mr Koko saying I must please engage the Majuba power station to accept this product.”

'First time'

He said it was unusual for Koko to make such a call and he had never been called about accepting substandard coal before.

Opperman said the conversation with Koko was short. He asked his manager what he ought to do and he was told to proceed with the delivery.

In the end the coal was sent to the power station.

Opperman told the commission he was against the coal being accepted. "I did indicate my discomfort about it. I definitely did not motivate for it," he said.

The quality parameter that was out of specification related to the size of the coal.

'Second time'

Opperman later told the inquiry that a similar sequence of events took place later in 2015, when he was again called by Koko to make sure that a stockpile of coal that was out of specification was delivered to Majuba power station.

He again consulted with his superior and was again told to follow Koko's instructions.

Opperman said it was apparent there was a rising level of frustration from executives at the power station about having to accept the coal.