Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said sabotage at Eskom is of grave concern and catastrophic proportions with highly organised attempts at undermining the country’s electricity supply.
Ramokgopa made these comments during an interview on eNCA, where he gave an update on the government’s implementation of the Energy Action Plan (EAP).
The minister focused on sabotage at Eskom’s power stations as this will negate any improvements in the utility’s Energy Availability Factor and additional generation capacity.
“We are placing significant amounts of effort in ensuring that we protect these assets and defend the gains we have made,” Ramokgopa said.
The National Electricity Crisis Committee (Necom) has set aside a group of intelligence and police experts to focus on workstream six of the EAP, focusing solely on crime, corruption, and safety at Eskom.
This has resulted in over 1,300 cases of sabotage being reported and over 100 arrests being made.
However, we need to “go beyond the ordinary men to the main orchestrators and the brains behind the efforts to undermine electricity supply”, Ramokgopa said.
Clearly, the destruction of infrastructure is not coincidental, but rather it is orchestrated. Necom has identified several links between acts of sabotage on Eskom infrastructure and the destruction of rail infrastructure in the country.
The minister said he “is more than confident that we will get to the bottom of this” because “if we do not solve this, all of our efforts are going to be undermined”.
Eskom executives involved in sabotage
Forensic investigator Calvin Rafadi said Eskom managers and employees had been involved in sabotage at power stations for years.
City Press has also reported that a high-ranking Eskom executive is linked to sabotage at power stations.
The report followed former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter’s revelations about employees and contractors sabotaging the power utility in his book, ‘Truth to Power’.
De Ruyter said two stages of load-shedding could be ascribed to sabotage, theft, and corruption.
There were clear-cut cases of sabotage at Eskom during De Ruyter’s tenure as chief executive, including:
- A pylon carrying power lines that fed Lethabo’s overland coal conveyor was sabotaged when the steel rods supporting it were cut.
- Criminal cartels are sabotaging railway lines feeding power stations to ensure the survival of their trucking companies transporting coal to Eskom.
- Criminal networks sabotage the conveyor belts taking coal directly from a mine to a power station to benefit trucking companies.
De Ruyter improved security and Eskom’s intelligence capacity to predict and prevent sabotage.
“At times, it felt like we were engaged in a low-grade civil war against criminals threatening to overrun the state,” he said.
Rafadi told eNCA they have been investigating the implicated Eskom executive manager for the last three years.
“Police Minister Bheki Cele has also confirmed that they are investigating some executive managers at Eskom,” he said.
Rafadi said there is extensive evidence which shows sabotage involving Eskom staff, including WhatsApp messages the police have.
He explained that contractors and procurement companies are behind the sabotage at Eskom power stations.
They typically bribe Eskom employees to proactively break equipment, which causes power outages and gives contractors and procurement companies more work.
Eskom responded to these allegations, saying it takes these sabotage allegations seriously and will allow the law to take its course.
“Eskom is committed to rooting out fraud, corruption and sabotage within its ranks and will fully cooperate with law enforcement,” it said.