Trade union Solidarity on Tuesday laid criminal charges against embattled former Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe and former Eskom board chairperson Ben Ngubane over the R30 million pension awarded to Molefe when he left the struggling state-owned power utility.

“The charges focus specifically on fraud because Mr Ngubane and Mr Molefe designed an unlawful scheme to enrich Mr Molefe. It goes down to a classical definition of fraud,” Solidarity chief executive Dirk Hermann said as he spoke to journalists at the Garsfontein police station in Pretoria east.

“We are also looking at other charges under different Acts of South Africa. What we have seen here is unlawful enrichment of an individual, which is not acceptable.”

Hermann said the high court judgement “actually paved the way” for criminal action to be pursued.

Last month, the High Court in Pretoria ruled that embattled Molefe was not entitled to any pension benefits from Eskom, also ruling that he must pay back the money he had since received.

“We came to the conclusion that the reinstatement of Mr Molefe as Group Chief Executive Officer at Eskom is at variance with the principle of legality and is invalid and false — to be set aside,” Judge Elias Matojane read out the judgement on behalf of a full bench of high court judges at the time.

“We also found that Mr Molefe was never entitled to receive any pension benefits from the Eskom pension fund, and any payments made in lieu of such benefits were patently unlawful.”

The court ruled that Molefe must pay back every cent advanced to him from the pension fund, in the next 10 days.

Molefe has already received R11 million from the R30 million pension payout.

It has since emerged that Molefe is appealing the judgement delivered by Matojane.

The court case was brought by South Africa’s official opposition, the Democratic Alliance, and Solidarity, seeking an order declaring Molefe’s R30-million pension payout unlawful and for it to be set aside.

Molefe left Eskom under a cloud after being implicated in the then Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s damning State of Capture report.

– African News Agency (ANA)