Man gets re­lief in Eskom le­gal case

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - FA­TIMA SCHROEDER

A FOR­MER Eskom em­ployee turned busi­ness­man, who was ar­rested a week ago for al­legedly de­fraud­ing the elec­tric­ity au­thor­ity of R65 mil­lion, suc­cess­fully asked the Western Cape High Court to free up funds to cover his dayto-day ex­penses, med­i­cal pro­ce­dures and le­gal fees.

Dawid Mal­herbe, 59, said in an af­fi­davit be­fore the court that he was in a dire fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion af­ter his as­sets were re­strained and bank ac­counts frozen.

“The freez­ing of our per­sonal bank ac­counts mean that debit or­ders which are about to fall due will be re­jected. Nec­es­sary med­i­cal pro­ce­dures can­not be car­ried out. We can­not use our own funds to buy food and other nec­es­sary ex­penses,” Mal­herbe said.

Mal­herbe, who headed an Eskom pro­ject to pro­vide low­cost elec­tric­ity ser­vices in Khayelit­sha, was ar­rested about a week ago.

His as­sets, and those of his com­pany En­ergy Util­ity Ser­vices, were re­strained by the As­set For­fei­ture Unit.

It is al­leged that he and his firm de­frauded Eskom of R65m, us­ing the money to bankroll lav­ish life­styles.

Ac­cord­ing to court pa­pers, Mal­herbe al­legedly pre­sented a pro­posal that cru­cial ser­vices car­ried out as part of the Khayelit­sha pro­ject be con­tracted to his com­pany, with­out dis­clos­ing that there was a con­flict of in­ter­est.

His pro­posal in­cluded elec­tric­ity retic­u­la­tion net­works, Eskom’s as­sets within Khayelit­sha, the man­age­ment and op­er­a­tion of the retic­u­la­tion net­work, the main­te­nance and ad­min­is­tra­tion of pre­paid vend­ing sys­tems, and the ren­der­ing of cus­tomer ser­vices and planned net­work main­te­nance ac­tiv­i­ties.

In ad­di­tion, it is al­leged that he pre­sented his firm as a BEE com­pany with “ex­ter­nal share BEE em­pow­er­ment”, and “limited share per em­ployee em­pow­er­ment”, when he was in fact its only share­holder.

He is to ap­pear in court again in Septem­ber in con­nec­tion with the crim­i­nal charges.

In this week’s ap­pli­ca­tion for the re­lease of liv­ing and le­gal ex­penses, Mal­herbe said that af­ter the re­straint or­der was granted, he, his wife and en­ti­ties linked to him made a full dis­clo­sure of their as­sets.

How­ever, he added that they were no longer able to meet their liv­ing ex­penses, which amount to more than R22 000 a month. He also needed money to pay for an an­tic­i­pated med­i­cal pro­ce­dure and den­tal work.

In ad­di­tion, Mal­herbe said he needed a sub­stan­tial amount of funds to be re­leased to him to pay his le­gal fees in pend­ing civil ap­pli­ca­tions in the High Court, and so that he and his com­pany could de­fend them­selves against the fraud al­le­ga­tions in the Bel­lville Com­mer­cial Crimes Court.

His le­gal fees in the crim­i­nal case alone are es­ti­mated to amount to over R500 000.

On Tues­day Judge Ash­ton Schip­pers granted the or­der af­ter the As­set For­fei­ture Unit agreed that the funds could be re­leased.

The cu­ra­tor ap­pointed to take con­trol of the as­sets was or­dered to re­lease R23 000 a month to Mal­herbe, the costs of the an­tic­i­pated med­i­cal pro­ce­dures, and R500 000 for le­gal ex­penses in the crim­i­nal case and R264 000 for le­gal ex­penses in the re­straint ap­pli­ca­tion. His wife’s prop­erty was or­dered to be re­leased from re­straint.

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