industry

South Africa police investigate alleged plot to poison CEO with cyanide


Police are investigating an alleged plot to poison the chief executive of a South African power utility.

Faced with political pressure, André de Ruyter resigned from his post at Eskom on 14 December after failing to solve a crisis in the company that has led to record levels of power cuts in Africa’s most industrialised economy.

After officially taking office in January 2020, De Ruyter led a company-wide clampdown on corruption and organised criminal behaviour, including sabotage of infrastructure, at Eskom plants. His last day in office will be on 31 March.

“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,” the utility’s head of security said in a statement.

The South African police services did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Eskom’s board chairman, Mpho Makwana, was also unavailable.

The alleged poisoning of De Ruyter was first reported by the specialist energy publication EE Business Intelligence on Saturday. It reported that De Ruyter drank a cup of coffee suspected to be laced with cyanide.

“De Ruyter became weak, dizzy and confused, shaking uncontrollably and vomiting copiously. He subsequently collapsed, unable to walk,” EEBI said. “He was rushed to his doctor’s rooms by his security detail, where his condition was diagnosed as cyanide poisoning, and treated accordingly. Tests taken subsequently confirmed massively elevated levels of cyanide in his body.”



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