Man gets relief in Eskom legal case
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.