Eskom’s secret security deal: Fidelity Group paid R500 million for three-month contract

In a startling revelation, City Press has uncovered that Eskom paid the Fidelity Services Group a staggering R500 million for security and intelligence gathering across its infrastructure. The contract, facilitated by former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter and head of security Karen Pillay, remained undisclosed until now. Fidelity’s intelligence findings have been kept under wraps, raising concerns about transparency. The appointment of Fidelity may have exploited emergency procurement measures, raising further questions about potential security breaches. These reports come amidst Eskom’s claims of a sustained campaign of sabotage, with deliberate incidents of damage and operational disruptions.

Eskom spent R500 million on three-month security deal

By Bradley Prior

City Press reports that Eskom paid the Fidelity Services Group R500 million over a three-month period to provide security and collect intelligence at Eskom infrastructure across South Africa.

These services were reportedly procured by former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter and head of security Karen Pillay and were concluded in October 2022.

Fidelity’s intelligence findings have not been made public, but De Ruyter and Pillay are believed to have received these findings before the contract ended.

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According to the City Press, the appointment of Fidelity was likely done using Eskom’s emergency procurement prescripts.

This would have relied on the privately-funded George Fivaz Forensic and Risk cover operation — which has since been labelled a potential security breach.

According to the agreement with Fidelity, the service provider was to supply Eskom with 400 armed guards; aerial surveillance, response services, and support; and armoured surveillance and response vehicles.

The request also said that Fidelity would provide “specialised security guards and technology deployment for intelligence-led protection of identified Eskom assets and infrastructure, located in crime hotspot areas nationally and across the Eskom divisions.”

Pillay said Fidelity was paid for its services without the knowledge of state security entities because Eskom did not trust the country’s law enforcement agencies.

“Against the backdrop of these threats that also affect national security, and due to the fact that law enforcement may not be able to mobilise at such short notice, it is incumbent on Eskom as the asset owner to deploy additional security measures to secure all high-risk infrastructure (generation, transmission, distribution and strategic facilities) supporting the electricity grid nationally,” said Pillay.

Read more: Gordhan slams de Ruyter, power struggles and accusations fly

Police minister Bheki Cele recently told MPs that Pillay was under investigation by the police — although he would not elaborate on the nature of the investigation.

Last month, De Ruyter said in an affidavit that Eskom had been the subject of a “sustained campaign of sabotage” for years.

He stated that not all of the damage to Eskom operations and property is caused by sabotage but that “it is clear that [some] damage to Eskom property and operations has been deliberate.”

He provided ten instances where he believed sabotage had caused significant costs at Eskom, which included:

  • Fire at Majoba — Two valves controlling the water flow to a fire suppression system were shut off before the fire broke out.
  • Pylon collapse at Lethabo — An investigation found clear evidence of a cutting instrument being used, and no evidence of corrosion.
  • Coincidental breakdowns — One unit at Kendal Power Station, and two at Matla Power Station, broke down on the same day — taking down capacity worth two stages of load-shedding. These power stations are just 50km apart.
  • Oil burner trips at Camden — A contractor admitted to removing the bearing oil drain plug from one of the station’s bearings – and confessed that this was an intentional act of sabotage.

Read more: SA braces for record winter blackouts as Eskom struggles

De Ruyter contended that the sheer number of inexplicable incidents of damage to Eskom’s properties, many of which had evidence of sabotage, “overwhelmingly confirms” that there was a sustained campaign of sabotage.

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This article was first published by My Broadband and is republished with permission