Recently, 15 books were stolen from Graffiti Books in the town of Montana, just north of Pretoria, in South Africa. They were all copies of the same book, Truth to Power: My Three Years Inside Eskom, by Andre de Ruyter. Eskom is the state-owned electric utility of South Africa, and it is not only the largest producer of electricity in that country but in all of Africa. However, it has also been plagued over the years with corruption and poor performance.
Andre de Ruyter served as CEO of Eskom from 2019-2023. De Ruyter is a controversial figure in South Africa. Similar to America, politics have a habit of finding their way into too many aspects of public life. So does corruption. De Ruyter saw himself as someone trying to deal with rampant corruption. Others did not. He didn't have the greatest success, but that would not be easy for anyone where corruption is a way of life. He also faced constant challenges in providing service, with blackouts also a part of life. Then there were attacks from a powerful politician. He had his enemies. We don't know who was right or wrong, but in December 2022, de Ruyter announced he would be leaving. He later gave an interview claiming Eskom was losing large sums of money because of the presence of four criminal syndicates within. If he wasn't already sufficiently controversial, that did it. It led to his immediate resignation. This was followed by his writing a tell-all book, recently the victim of theft fifteen times over.
The bookstore owner said that someone had taken the books from a display in the front of the store when no one was looking. The security cameras were rolling but the owner was uncertain the culprit would ever be identified. The books were valued at 5,000 rand, or approximately US $260. The theft wasn't likely by one of de Ruyter's enemies. The store owner said it was a popular book and one the thief could readily sell elsewhere.
However, this story has a happy ending for the store owner. She received a call from a radio station saying they would be reimbursed for their losses. The benefactor was none other than de Ruyter himself. Considering his previous levels of employment, 5,000 rand probably isn't a significant amount of money to him, but it was still a nice gesture. Owner Leonie van Rensburg told The South African “When something like this happens to you, you are down in the dumps and know that there is nothing you can do about it but then the positive ring to it is that there are still very good people out there and we really thank Mr. de Ruyter for his generosity.” This act isn't likely to change too many people's opinions about Mr. de Ruyter though he must have made at least one more friend, and now 15 more people will get a chance to read his side of the Eskom story.