Curious case of Eskom’s Mark vd Riet, suspended after blowing whistle on Gupta coal

By Alec Hogg

Most Monday evenings my in-laws’ cottage is packed with friends from the local Methodist Church. This jolly group spend a couple hours reading from the good book before chatting, eating and drinking tea. Such is the quality of the refreshments, we’d occasionally time visits to coincide with the first brew.

Some months back one of the cell group, an electrical engineer, shared the curious story of his friend Mark van der Riet. His esteemed pal, Eskom’s top coal scientist, got himself suspended after rejecting sub-standard coal from a Gupta mine. Instead of praising his diligence, Eskom’s worthies chose to believe Gupta claims that Van der Riet tried to bribe them.

Tomorrow marks a full year that Van der Riet, his colleague, lab manager Charlotte Ramavhona, and two other Eskom employees have been at home twiddling their thumbs. Since they were removed, a small matter of R134m worth of Gupta coal has been shovelled into Eskom furnaces. One of numerous Eskom/Gupta issues that has so irritated National Treasury.

Eskom’s management says it is “shocked and perplexed” at Treasury’s allegations. Their damage control efforts might read well in the Megawatt Park Press Office. But they won’t wash with the cheerful lot who met at my in-laws last night. Nor with thousands of other ordinary but informed citizens exposed to the facts of those being victimised. Truth is tightening the Zupta vice. Hope springs.

A classic on the subject of fossil fuels from Zapiro SA’s top cartoonist. More at Zapiro.com