20/11/2017 06:41 SAST | Updated 20/11/2017 06:41 SAST

Are Witnesses At Koko's Hearing Being Targeted?

Two witnesses due to testify against Matshela Koko have been suspended.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters

Witnesses at the disciplinary hearing of suspended Eskom CEO Matshela Koko say they are being intimidated in an attempt to silence them, Business Day reported.

France Hlakudi, contracts manager at Kusile power station, and his senior, Abram Masango, were reportedly suspended in the last two weeks. Masango was reportedly suspended last week on allegations of "generally corrupt conduct".

Koko reportedly faces six charges, including the irregular awarding of tenders worth R1-billion to a company in which his daughter had shares. He has also been accused of purging colleagues from their positions, including Hlakudi and Masango. It is unclear whether Masango will still testify against him, but Hlakudi has reportedly declined to do so.

Masango reportedly reported Koko to the Eskom board, and Koko tried to force him to take study leave abroad, reportedly to ease "political tension" at the power utility.

Hlakudi reportedly resigned, but maintains that the allegations that he accepted a bribe to divert tenders at Kusile are not true.

In October, Business Day reported that the disciplinary process against Koko appeared to have been tainted by irregular interventions, aimed at benefiting Koko. This included allegations that the Eskom board let Koko choose the presiding officer, and that Eskom received legal advice that its evidence leader was too junior and inexperienced.

Eyewitness News (EWN) reported that that evidence leader, Sebetja Matsaung, was later fired after threatening the Financial Mail's deputy editor, Sikonathi Mantshantsha. There were also concerns that Matsaung might have business ties with Eskom.