The Joe Singh Group has announced that the Senior Public Prosecutor has declined to prosecute Just Coal regarding charges laid against it by Eskom Holdings.
On 28 February 2020, the Senior Public Prosecutor cited ‘insufficient evidence for a successful prosecution’ as the basis for a decision to nolle prosequi the matter and lodged this at the station of origin.
The case was first laid against Just Coal in December 2016, while Matshela Koko, an individual who was found to have close association with the Gupta family, was in tenure as Group Executive: Generation at Eskom and Acting CEO.
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It was later found, during the so-called Gupta-leaks scandals, that Koka was a key protagonist in the company’s charges against Just Coal.
Singh, Chief Executive and founder of The Joe Singh Group, comments:
“It became apparent, shortly after allegations about a case were made in the press, that while a party was prepared to leak misinformation, Eskom was not prioritising a resolution.
“Every time we tried to address the matter, Eskom was unavailable – nor had we had any engagements from the police regarding the charges.
“Therefore, we felt we would have to institute our own formal engagements to expedite proceedings.”
Singh has previously chosen not to fight this matter in the court of public opinion, he and his representatives had pursued it through formal channels.
Representatives from the Joe Singh Group initiated engagements with the office of the Public Prosecutor, the South African Police Services, the Minister of Police and other stakeholders as the company felts that too much time had lapsed between allegations and an attempt to resolve the claims.
In expediting the process, they wanted to do away with the ongoing uncertainty that was wrongly hampering the Group’s operations and reputation.
“While some media outlets were quick to print misinformation, the truth is that neither myself nor Just Coal were ever formally charged with any offences as alleged.
“However, the irresponsibility of going to press without the facts – and the reality that the claimant was influential in our sector – resulted in unwarranted financial prejudice and reputational harm to me and my business.”
Singh believes that this matter has also negatively impacted his – and by association, Just Coal’s –relationship with Eskom.
In fact, the criminal case was used as a reason to justify Eskom cancelling Just Coal’s ten-year contract in March 2017.
This unwarranted cancellation prompted Singh to subsequently institute legal action against Eskom for the re-instatement of the contract.
The civil action instituted by Singh against Eskom was initially defended by Cliff Dekker Hofmeyr, however it now remains pending, as Cliff Dekker Hofmeyr withdrew as attorneys of record for Eskom on the matter.