Attempted murder on Eskom CEO André de Ruyter

Eskom CEO André de Ruyter has survived an attempt on his life after an assassin laced his cup of coffee with cyanide in mid-December, EE Business Intelligence reports.

De Ruyter confirmed to the publication that he reported the attempted murder to the South African Police Service (SAPS) on Thursday, 5 January 2023.

He said the case could be assumed to be under investigation.

The attempted assassination happened at Megawatt Park on Tuesday, 13 December 2022 — the day after De Ruyter submitted his resignation as CEO to the Eskom chairman, Mpho Makwana.

However, he noted that his resignation only became public knowledge the day after the poisoning.

De Ruyter is serving his notice period at Eskom, which will see him helm the state-owned power utility until 31 March 2023.

Citing a source external to Eskom, EE Business Intelligence reported that De Ruyter shook uncontrollably, became weak, dizzy, and confused, and repeatedly vomited after drinking from the poisoned cup.

The CEO’s security detail rushed De Ruyter to a doctor after he collapsed. He was diagnosed with cyanide poisoning and received the necessary treatment.

According to the report, subsequent tests confirmed significantly elevated levels of cyanide in his body.

This is not the first time an Eskom executive’s safety has been at risk.

In November 2022, the Hawks and contracted investigators traced and arrested a 27-year-old suspect with “overwhelming evidence” reportedly linking them to a bomb threat against Eskom chief operating officer Jan Oberholzer.

Oberholzer received the bomb threat from an anonymous and unregistered cellphone number in May last year, which he immediately reported to the SAPS.

“The targeting of Eskom executives and employees, who are focused and hard at work during these difficult times, is very disturbing,” Eskom general security manager Karen Pillay said.

“Such acts of criminality are malicious, and Eskom takes them seriously.”

Pillay added that the nature and level of threats impact the ability of Eskom employees to do the critical tasks their jobs demand of them.

The suspect remained in custody until his court appearance, which was scheduled for the week of Monday, 21 November 2022.

Eskom has been cracking down on corruption and sabotage at its power stations since De Ruyter became CEO in 2020.

The power utility’s contracted investigators and the SAPS managed to nail eight perpetrators in November 2022.

Five were arrested for coal theft, including two cases of coal swapping — one of which saw the arrest of both the truck driver and his supervisor.

Eskom’s efforts to root out corruption and sabotage at its power stations also led to the arrest of two security guards who aided in diesel theft, and a maintenance contractor alleged to have sabotaged a generation unit at Camden Power Station.

The suspect was found to have intentionally removed a bearing oil drain plug, causing one of the generating unit’s oil burners to trip repeatedly.

“This malicious act caused all the oil to drain out from the bearing, thus damaging the bearing, which, in turn, prevented the mills from operating optimally,” Eskom explained.

“Camden Unit 4 subsequently tripped after losing all the mills.”

Eskom’s head of security Karen Pillay, told MyBroadband that, as the incident is still under investigation, the power utility can’t provide further details.

“Eskom cannot comment further on the poisoning incident involving the Group Chief Executive, which occurred during December 2022, as the matter is subject to police investigation,” Pillay said.

“A criminal complaint has been laid at the Hermanus Police Station under CAS 82/1/2023.”

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Attempted murder on Eskom CEO André de Ruyter