March 19, 2020 / 1:43 PM / in 15 days

South African power utility Eskom orders investigation into COO

JOHANNESBURG, March 19 (Reuters) - A senior lawyer is to investigate allegations of “corruption and victimisation” levelled against the operations chief at Eskom, the struggling South African power utility’s board said.

The company had received correspondence from anti-graft organisation Corruption Watch and the South African Federation of Trade Unions detailing fresh allegations against Jan Oberholzer, Eskom’s chief operating officer, the board said in a statement.

Oberholzer has been investigated over separate accusations that were found to have no substance, the statement said, adding that the board had previously been unaware of the new allegations.

“In the correspondence, both organisations articulate allegations of corruption and victimisation against the chief operating officer,” it continued.

“In the best interests of Eskom and both the complainants and the COO, the board has engaged the services of independent senior counsel to investigate the allegations.”

Oberholzer did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent via LinkedIn. Eskom declined to provide Reuters with direct contact details for Oberholzer, but the media team said it would pass on Reuters’ request for comment.

Eskom’s finances have been left in dire straits after years of mismanagement, and its now-ailing infrastructure is unable to meet demand, forcing the supplier of 90% of South Africa’s electricity to implement scheduled power cuts.

Once the investigation has concluded, counsel will make recommendations to the board on how to proceed, the board statement added.

Reporting by Emma Rumney Editing by David Goodman

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