Following his sudden termination from his position last week, Andre De Ruyter, the former CEO of South Africa’s largest energy company, Eskom, stated that he intends to “lay low” as he has been stripped of his company bodyguard.
In an interview with the Financial Times published on Thursday, De Ruyter, who was poisoned with cyanide-laced coffee in December, explained that he will no longer receive protection paid for by his former employer.
When asked if he plans to flee the country, he responded, “I may travel abroad for a while, but I have no intention of leaving the country. I will simply be cautious about accepting invitations for coffee.”De Ruyter was due to remain in his role until the end of March 2023 but submitted his resignation hours before being poisoned.
He was forced out of the company following a controversial interview with journalist Annika Larsen in which he made serious accusations of corruption.
In the interview, De Ruyter said he raised concerns about a “high-level” politician being involved in corruption to his boss Pravin Gordhan — South Africa’s public enterprises minister — but was ignored.
De Ruyter confirmed to the Financial Times that his poisoning was, in fact, an attempted murder, as determined by his toxicologist.
During his televised interview, De Ruyter provided more details about the incident, explaining that his personal assistant had prepared instant coffee for him since the coffee machine at Eskom’s headquarters was out of order. Shortly after consuming the drink, he began experiencing confusion, nausea, and difficulty breathing. He was subsequently rushed to his personal physician by his security team.
De Ruyter stressed that cyanide poisoning is not a minor issue and can quickly lead to fatalities. He further stated that if his doctor had not administered a vitamin B injection, he might not have survived the ordeal.
According to reports, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed concern over the hazards of working at Eskom, noting that one manager reportedly wears a bulletproof vest to work and is accompanied by two bodyguards at all times.
Since De Ruyter was appointed as CEO in 2019, he has tried to clamp down on corruption in the energy sector. He told the FT that criminal gangs loot Eskom’s coal plants forcing the company to impose power cuts.
He also pointed to South Africa’s governing party, the African National Congress, for the power shortages saying “it’s a little bit like a Venn Diagram.”
“There might be pure criminals and pure politicians. And then there’s an area in the middle where the interests of the two intersect.”
Difficult problem to deal with… kinda like Democrats in the USA…