South African state-owned power utility, Eskom, recovered three transformers to the value of R120,000 ($8,340.46) each after three employees stole and attempted to sell the high priced items in 2016.
The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) has since ruled in favour of Eskom in the infrastructure theft case involving Eskom employees who were dismissed in September last year.
Eskom employees implicated for infrastructure theft
Bongani Mdluli and David Buti Smith’s dismissal came after they stole and attempted to sell three Eskom transformers.
According to the utility, their accomplice – Elias Nkosi, who is also an Eskom employee, subsequently resigned before a disciplinary hearing could be held against him.
Tebogo Rakau, the Eskom divisional executive for security welcomed the CCMA verdict.
“Infrastructure theft, including cable theft is a serious crime that robs the South African economy billions of rands every year.
“This verdict sends the necessary strong message to all those involved in such criminal activities that Eskom will not tolerate any such crime and will deal decisively with all transgressors, including its own employees,” Rakau said.
The three men were arrested after Eskom’s investigation team received a tip-off from a whistleblower, who informed them that the trio were looking for a buyer to purchase three transformers which belonged to Eskom.
The investigation team then set a trap posing as potential buyers. At the time the items were to be exchanged for payment, the three suspects were then arrested.
The two former technical officials who had taken Eskom to the CCMA seeking reinstatement, did not dispute that they had loaded the transformers from Eskom’s Major Engineering Works Princess Construction site onto an Eskom crane truck, the parastatal said in a statement.
They also did not dispute that they were present at the time of the transaction, however their defence was that they were acting on instructions from their supervisor, Elias Nkosi, who set them up and told them that a supplier required the transformers because its operations had shut down.
The two men also claimed they did not question the fact that the transformers were taken to a location in the township and that the ‘purchase transaction’ had taken place after hours.
The evidence presented at the disciplinary hearing indicated that the transformers had been removed from Eskom’s premises without authorisation prior to the deal being made.
The three men subsequently secured the transformers and willingly drove to the venue for payment of the decided purchase price. All this, the CCMA concluded, did not constitute entrapment.
Rakau thanked the whistleblower who alerted the Eskom investigation team of the incident and encouraged people to continue to report cable theft and electricity theft by sending a detailed SMS tip-off to Crime Line on 32211.