Eskom spokesperson asks for R1 million to fight former Eskom CEO

Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise R1 million for a legal fight with former acting Eskom CEO Matshela Koko.

Mantshantsha explained in a Daily Maverick article that Koko filed a defamation claim for R600,000 against him in November 2020.

The lawsuit followed a series of articles he published as a financial journalist in Financial Mail and Business Day. Arena Holdings own these publications.

Instead of focussing on the content of the articles, however, the lawsuit relates to comments Mantshantsha made on Twitter related to these articles.

“Most curiously, this lawsuit was launched a full two years after the offending remarks were published on Twitter and in the newspapers,” he said.

“The lawsuit against me personally has been designed to ensure I would be cut off from any potential funding by my employer at the time, and therefore be left without any financial resources to defend my work.”

Arena Holdings has already settled about a third of the legal costs, which amounted to hundreds of thousands of rands. The shortfall to cover all costs is estimated at just over R1 million.

Koko, meanwhile, said Mantshantsha must be held to account for making false and defamatory statements. These include:

  • He has a bank account in Dubai – “The implications here is that I stole money and put it in a bank account in Dubai”.
  • He has more than eight houses which he acquired through proceeds of crime – “I only have two properties which are bonded”.
  • He gave his daughter contracts to the tune of R300 million – “This is false and defamatory”.

“His lies hurt me, and he must account. Klaar,” said Koko.

Speaking to Newzroom Africa, Mantshantsha said his comments on Twitter suggested that Koko would have been in jail if the law enforcement agencies had done their job.

“If the law enforcement agencies did their job, Koko would have been found guilty of corruption, fraud, and possibly treason,” he said.

Mantshantsha added that Koko avoided responding when asked for comment before any of his articles were published.

The Eskom spokesperson said it is costly to defend a defamation lawsuit, which is why he launched a public campaign to raise funds for his case.

He said they had raised R350,000 yesterday evening, working towards a target of R1 million.

Mantshantsha said that if there is any money left over after settling his legal obligations, it will be donated to whistleblowers, or their dependents, who stood up against corruption and lost their livelihoods or lives as a result.

Details about the crowdfunding campaign are available here.

Now read: Eskom launches legal action over power price hikes

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Eskom spokesperson asks for R1 million to fight former Eskom CEO