A former Eskom official, who used to work as an administrative clerk, was sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment on Wednesday for defrauding the power utility of R2.6 million.

Nwabisa Ngxola was accused of 114 charges including fraud, theft, and money laundering along with businessman Michael Chimanzi and Eskom finance clerk Cinderella Moropane. While Moropane's hearing will be held on May 17, Chimanzi was sentenced to eight years imprisonment on March1.

National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesperson Monica Nyuswa disclosed that Ngxola, Chimanzi and Moropane were involved in submitting fake invoices to Eskom--the energy company responsible for providing electricity throughout South Africa, SA News reported.

"Ngxola's password and username were used to capture certain payments to Mandla Lines CC, which is a legitimate company registered in the name of Chimanzi," Nyuswa said on Thursday. "The three shared the proceeds amongst themselves and they were arrested after the police received a tip-off."

Spokesperson Nyuswa further shared that the two Eskom officials' supervisor has testified about the damage they have caused to the business, noting that "their evidence was supported by the owner of Mandla Lines, who confirmed that they colluded and provided false invoices to Eskom."

Nyuswa explained the magistrate at the Mbombela Specialized Commercial Crimes Court, which sentenced the culprits, said that the former official Ngxola "had enough time to retract herself from the offense, instead, she waited until the whistleblower reported the incident to Eskom."

"[The Magistrate] sentenced the accused to 10 years imprisonment and upon conviction, Ngxola applied for leave to appeal her conviction and sentence which was dismissed," Nyuswa added. "Fraud is a pandemic that has engulfed our economy and is perpetrated by well-sophisticated people and should be stopped in its tracks."

Hawks provincial spokesperson in Mpumalanga Captain Dineo Sekgotodi disclosed the details of the total imprisonment.

"The total sentence is 24 years' imprisonment, though the court ordered that the sentence should run concurrently whereby the accused will serve 10 years' direct imprisonment without option of fine," Sekgotodi said, IOL reported.

She continued, "Fraudulent transactions were channeled to Chimanzi Investments' business account, which prejudiced Eskom to the amount of R2.6 million."

Andre Marinus de Ruyter, who served as the CEO of Eskom from December 2019 to December 2022, claimed in February there was a high level of corruption in the company.

However, electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa turned down those allegations in March and said all the load-shedding problems are technical.

"The problems and challenges that we have here are technical problems, they have nothing to do with so-called corruption," Ramokgopa said. "We will be honest and transparent on where we are in relation to the resolution of this problem. We will communicate that to the general public."

President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa appointed Ramokgopa as electricity minister on March 1. Since then, he has reportedly visited 14 power stations to understand the problem that contributes to load-shedding in the country.

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