Ramaphosa sends army to protect Eskom power stations

South Africa’s president has ordered army personnel to be stationed at power stations as theft and sabotage adds to the inability of state-owned utility Eskom to meet electricity demand.

A total of 880 South African National Defence Force members will be deployed at stations around the country until Oct. 17, presidential spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said in a statement on Saturday. Some 2,700 members were previously deployed March 17 through April 17.

Andre de Ruyter, the former head of South Africa’s state power utility, estimated the amount of money that’s being stolen from Eskom at 1 billion rand ($55 million) a month.

Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa in April announced plans, to be implemented over the next six months, to limit power cuts that have crippled South Africa — included addressing criminality and reducing infrastructure sabotage at Eskom.

Eskom is cutting 4,000 megawatts of power generating capacity from the nation’s grid on Saturday due to the further breakdown of generating units, the company said in a tweet.

The latest reduction was implemented at 5 a.m. and is planned to run through 4 p.m. local time on May 6.

On Friday, South Africa’s High Court ruled that all government hospitals and clinics, state schools and the country’s police buildings should be spared from power cuts.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan must “take all reasonable steps within 60 days” to prevent interruption of electricity supply due to rotational blackouts implemented by state-owned utility Eskom, according to a ruling by three judges from the court in Pretoria.


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