South Africa
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Scopa to subpoena police officer Jaap Burger about Eskom

Parliament will subpoena Brig Jaap Burger to appear before the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) over his role in the investigation of crime and corruption at Eskom.

After several requests for him to voluntarily appear before the committee, Burger has dug in his heels, insisting the committee has no powers to probe criminality at the power utility.

On Wednesday, Scopa members unanimously voted for his subpoena.

Burger is the police representative who engaged former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter on the corruption, criminal activity and maladministration taking place at the power utility.

De Ruyter told Scopa in April he had provided all the information at his disposal about crime and corruption at Eskom to a police officer, who was designated by national police commissioner Gen Fannie Masemola to be the liaison with the intelligence operation investigating the allegations.

“This officer has had full access to all the intelligence gathered and has stated to me he has kept his line command informed,” said De Ruyter at the time.

Burger has refused to appear before the committee, arguing it had no mandate to deal with national security matters.

The committee has been trying to secure his attendance since June. He has snubbed it three times, and instead communicated his discomfort to the speaker.

In September, Masemola informed Scopa that Burger retired at the end of June and would not be able to appear before the committee.

However, MPs felt it remained important that as a former police official who is alleged to have been informed of criminal and corrupt activities at Eskom, he should appear to account.

The legal advice Scopa sought dismissed Burger’s assertion that information about “a national key point” can’t be shared in a public committee such as Scopa. Instead, the opinion confirmed Scopa is legally mandated to summons any person to appear before it, provided the questions put to the person, or the information sought from the person, is in pursuit of the committee’s oversight mandate.

Committee chair Mkhuleko Hlengwa (IFP) disclosed that after the committee’s October 10 meeting where it resolved to give Burger a last chance to appear on October 25, he again wrote to National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula reiterating that his concerns had not been addressed and he was therefore not in a position to accept the committee’s invitation.

In a letter dated October 23, acting speaker Lechesa Tsenoli wrote to Burger and appealed to him to co-operate with the committee as it performed its functions.

“Contrary to the views and concerns expressed by Brig Burger in his letter to the speaker, it is our considered view Scopa is acting within its constitutional mandate and powers in requesting his appearance before the committee,” Hlengwa said.

“His retirement is not an impediment for him to provide oral evidence or submit records for information in pursuit of Scopa’s oversight inquiry on the matters.”

The summons will be issued for Burger to appear on November 15.