CEO Reportedly Was Served Coffee Laced With Cyanide

Andre de Ruyter of South Africa energy giant Eskom survives
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 9, 2023 11:10 AM CST
Someone Allegedly Put Cyanide in This CEO's Coffee
Stock photo.   (Getty/nerudol)

A strange and disturbing story out of South Africa: Multiple reports say the head of the energy giant Eskom survived an attempt to kill him via cyanide in his coffee. "I have reported the matter to SAPS [the South African Police Service] ... and the case can be assumed to be under investigation," CEO Andre De Ruyter tells EE Business Intelligence. Police haven't commented, but the government minister who oversees the nation's energy sector says "this attempt on his life will be thoroughly investigated," per Insider. De Ruyter and Eskom say the poisoning took place on Dec. 13.

By the account in the Financial Times, the coffee machine in De Ruyter's office wasn't working that day, and he was served a cup from another source. Upon drinking it, he became "weak, dizzy, and confused" before vomiting and collapsing, and a trip to the hospital revealed "massively" high cyanide levels in his blood, per EE Business Intelligence. De Ruyter had actually submitted his resignation from the high-profile post just before the alleged poisoning, though the news wasn't made public until afterward. He's supposed to remain in office until March.

De Ruyter became CEO in 2020, and he may be best known for launching a companywide campaign against corruption, per Reuters. The outlet quotes Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan as saying an intense battle was underway "between those who want South Africa to work and thrive and those who want to corruptly enrich themselves," though he didn't elaborate. Another bit of context: Eskom supplies about 90% of South Africa's electricity, and De Ruyter resigned "after failing to solve a crisis in the company that has led to record levels of power cuts in Africa's most industrialized economy," per the Guardian. (More cyanide stories.)

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