Fidelity weighs in on R500 million Eskom security contract allegations

Fidelity Services Group CEO Wahl Bartmann has confirmed that the company was awarded a three-month emergency contract with Eskom to provide comprehensive security services for the beleaguered power utility.

Bartmann was responding to ongoing media reporting about the controversial security contract.

Most recently, City Press, citing officials from rival NSA Global, reported on Sunday that the alleged R500 million contract could have cost R30 million.

NSA Global further alleged that Eskom acting security chief Karen Pillay had approached them to develop an emergency security contract, which was then channelled to Fidelity.

They said Pillay approached NSA Global and several other companies in December 2021 for a security solution to protect Eskom’s infrastructure from sabotage and social unrest.

An NSA Global official stated that Pillay asked the company to pitch a scaled-up model to Eskom, which it did.

“Hours were spent doing so. Our company’s intellectual property was [then] taken and given to Fidelity,” said the official.

Bartmann explained that the contract was comprehensive, including land and air support, tactical intervention units, and crowd control.

Eskom entered into the emergency contract following its wage dispute with unions in June 2022, which turned into destructive riots at its power stations and employees’ homes.

For their part, the unions denied any involvement with the attacks, saying their members were acting of their own accord. Yet, when Eskom returned to the negotiating table, the attacks stopped.

At one stage, the attacks got so bad that Eskom called a media briefing, during which public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan showed pictures of employees’ homes and cars being fire-bombed and tyres slashed.

Gordhan said at the time that the protests were the main reason South Africa had slipped into constant stage 6 load-shedding.

Bartmann said its contract with Eskom comprised a national deployment to cover its generation and transmission assets.

The total value was R250 million — not R500 million.

“During this period, Fidelity Services Group, together with other service providers, were already supplying other services to Eskom, in support of their National Wage dispute,” Bartmann stated.

Bartmann said the contract was awarded based on Fidelity’s experience in managing specialised services within the current National Critical Infrastructure Industry and its national footprint.

This included land and air support with helicopter and tactical drone surveillance capabilities, specialised armoured personnel carriers, tactical intervention units, crowd control, and access control.

“Fidelity’s Business Centre, as well as National Command Centres, were utilised for operational compliance and execution,” he said.

“Contrary to Media statements and reports, Fidelity Services Group was not requested, nor provided, any Intelligence services to Eskom.”

Bartmann highlighted that Eskom confirmed in a media statement earlier this month that the services were awarded in line with all Eskom’s procurement procedures and the National Treasury directives for emergency procurement of services.

“We will provide our full and unconditional cooperation to any inquiry that may be held as we are confident that all due processes were followed. All services and solutions were confirmed, vetted and approved with the client and the services provided met the compliance stipulations,” stated Bartmann.

Karen Pillay, acting head of security at Eskom

Eskom placed Pillay on precautionary suspension following allegations of her involvement in the security tender.

The power utility told MyBroadband that Pillay was suspended to allow space for the investigation into the allegations against her to go ahead unhindered.

It did not specify which allegations were being probed.

“No further comments will be provided on this matter until the investigation is finalised,” it stated.

Now read: Two stages of Eskom load-shedding caused by illegal connections

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Fidelity weighs in on R500 million Eskom security contract allegations