Eskom has taken more than two months to act on recommendations by law firm Bowman Gilfillan’s to try and recover R1.5 billion paid unlawfully to McKinsey and Trillian Capital.

DA MP Natasha Mazzone said: “Eskom’s decision to recover these monies is evidence that there was in fact wrongdoing and that these payments were not above board”.

“Being such a critical entity, which is inextricably tied to the nation’s economy, it is in the public interest to do everything we can as Eskom to claw back all the fees which were unlawfully paid, while expediting the disciplinary processes now under way”, it said.

In a very low-key, some would say furtive, late-night media statement, the power utility said it had asked the two to return R1bn and R564m respectively “which appears to have been unlawfully paid out in 2016 and 2017”.

Trillian was not immediately available for comment.

“All of those people involved will have to account, we’ve laid charges against all of them and South Africa will realise that we will be on this case and we will be announcing further steps if Eskom doesn’t take this matter to the court and bring back that R1.5 billion”, he added.

A US risk management firm advised Eskom previous year to withhold tens of millions of dollars in payments for advice from McKinsey, because the global consultancy’s “very unusual” payment model allowed it to charge fees in excess of market rates. He said, however, that Eskom and McKinsey had agreed to co-operate in an “independent process” to ensure that their financial arrangements were “lawful”.

Eskom board chairperson Zethembe Khoza has reportedly confirmed that head of legal services Suzanne Daniels was suspended this week.

It received this advice both from its own legal team, and from constultancy firm Oliver Wyman, which it hired to investigate the contracts. A group of protesters demonstrated in the street outside McKinsey’s office in Johannesburg on Thursday, accusing it of participating in government corruption.