Power utility Eskom has confirmed that a sophisticated bug was found in the vehicle of its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Andre de Ruyter.
According to weekend media reports, a preliminary investigation by a forensic company found the device is “typically used by law enforcement and intelligence agencies” and investigators say it is “not commercially available on the open market”.
De Ruyter was quoted saying he discovered the bug under the driver’s seat when he was cleaning his vehicle on Friday last week.
“I was in the back of my Volvo when I saw something strange on the floor underneath the driver’s seat,” he told the Sunday Times. “The device — a motherboard filled with microchips — immediately looked out of place. I assume it was stuck to the bottom of the seat and must have shaken loose.”
Without saying much Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha confirmed de Ruyter did say ‘those things’ attributed to them in the report.
De Ruyter has come under fire for the continued load shedding in the country with some calling for his head.
South Africans for the past approximately three weeks been bearing the brunt of load shedding which varied between stages 6 and 3 and as expected, many were left frustrated and angry at the relentless power outages.
It is believed de Ruyter contacted retired police commissioner George Fivaz, whose company — George Fivaz Forensic & Risk — specialises in forensic investigations.
“I sent him a photo of the device and asked him if I needed to be worried. He immediately replied that ‘at first glance it looks like a piece of equipment that can be used to intercept communications or transmit location’. They are still analysing the device to find out more about its capabilities,” De Ruyter was quoted saying.
The preliminary report, according to the Sunday Times, says the device is “a transceiver, highly efficient in design”.
“More analysis is needed. It is still unclear exactly what it was used for but the device can be used in tracking devices, listening devices, smart RFID [radio-frequency identification] devices, metering applications, keys, IoT [internet of things] devices and telemetry devices, and can send data up to a rate of 1.25MBb/s.”
“It also has a signal range of about 5km.”