Oberholzer cleared of wrongdoing regarding Aveng payment dispute

Eskom Chief Operating Officer (COO) Jan Oberholzer has been cleared of all wrongdoing regarding a payment dispute with contractor Aveng. 


Following the court's findings against Eskom on a payment dispute with Aveng, Eskom approached Advocate Nazir Cassim seeking his counsel on the way forward. 

AVENG APPROACHES HIGH COURT REGARDING OBERHOLZER 


In his investigation report into the grievance against Oberholzer, Advocate Cassim had directed Eskom to conduct a disciplinary action against the COO on the allegation that he had favoured the interests of Aveng above those of Eskom by pressuring an employee to settle a R40 million invoice due to to the contractor. Cassim had also advised Eskom to await the outcome of the court case before taking any action. 


"The High Court ruling has now vindicated the COO's stance on the payment dispute with Aveng. In a subsequent opinion, Advocate Cassim has cleared Mr Oberholzer of all wrongdoing on this matter, which brings the grievance procedure against the COO to finality," Eskom said in a statement on Friday. 


"The Eskom board strongly condemns persistence, unfounded and scurrilous allegations against Mr Oberholzer, which have not only served to distract management's attention away from the very critical job of correcting the poor performance of Eskom's generation plant but have also unnecessarily brought disrepute to Eskom and dragged the name of a key and dedicated employee into non-existent corruption scandals," it added.  


The board said it wishes to affirm its full confidence in him and will continue to lend Oberholzer all the necessary support to enable him to fully perform his job at Eskom. 

ESKOM INSTRUCTED TO PAY CONTRACTOR 


While Oberholzer was vindicated, the South Gauteng High Court on 11 September 2020, ruled in favour of Aveng ordering Eskom to pay more than R40 million, plus interest until the debt is settled, as well as, the applicant's legal costs. The case was heard in the Johannesburg division of the high court on 18 May and the power utility said it would comply with the court order. 


Eskom had contracted Aveng for the design, refurbishment, and optimisation of the rail yard and coal offloading facility at the Majuba power station. 


"Five payment disputes arose between the parties, resulting in an independent adjudicator awarding Aveng's claims against Eskom during April and May 2019. Eskom settled three of the disputes and on the advice of the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, withheld payment on the remaining two disputes," it said. 


When Eskom failed to pay the remaining two claims, Aveng approached the high court to enforce the payment. 

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