Crime syndicates crippling Eskom 

National Police Commissioner Fannie Masemola has launched Operation Shanela, which aims to tackle organised crime across the country and, in particular, “break the spines of the Eskom syndicates”. 

Masemola outlined the government’s efforts to tackle organised crime at the launch of Operation Shanela in the North-West. 

Operation Shanela will be replicated across South Africa, with the police expanding the operation to other provinces in the next two weeks. 

The Operation has “seen a lot of success and is making an impact on crime in the North-West”, according to Masemola. 

Local police have already arrested illegal miners possessing 15 AK-47s, with over 80 firearms recovered. 

Masemola said that the operation is focused on confiscating illegal firearms that are either brought into South Africa illegally or are robbed by gun owners in the country. 

These firearms are used by syndicates that are crippling Eskom’s ability to provide electricity and are also used by the so-called Construction Mafia. 

The Commissioner is adamant that the police will successfully bring the syndicates operating at Eskom to book. 

“We are not losing the battle. We will not be defeated. We will break the spine of the syndicates”, he said to eNCA

National Police Commissioner, Fannie Masemola

There is widespread crime at Eskom, with allegations of criminal syndicates in Mpumalanga and the notorious KwaZulu-Natal construction mafia stealing billions from the power utility.

Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said crime, corruption, and sabotage were a big part of the problem at Eskom.

He added that organised crime syndicates with links to the notorious KwaZulu-Natal construction mafia had infiltrated Eskom’s procurement department.

Ramokgopa said there are criminal activities in Eskom’s procurement division which extends into crime cartels.

Former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter also warned that crime and corruption at Eskom are deeply entrenched and highly organised.

He said the criminal networks had extended their tentacles to many Eskom workers who sabotage and vandalise power stations on their behalf.

“We know of at least four organised crime cartels operating in Mpumalanga operating in Eskom who steal at least R1 billion per month,” he said.

The four criminal cartels are sophisticated, well-organised, and even adopted language associated with the Mafia, like captains and soldiers.

“They have a hit squad of between sixty and seventy highly trained and well-armed people. People get assassinated in Mpumalanga.”

Eskom executives involved in organised crime

Calvin Rafadi
Calvin Rafadi

Forensic investigator Calvin Rafadi revealed that Eskom managers and employees had been involved in sabotage at power stations for years.

Rafadi told eNCA that police minister Bheki Cele has also confirmed that they are investigating some executive managers at Eskom.

There is extensive evidence which shows sabotage involving Eskom staff, including WhatsApp messages the police have.

It revealed that contractors and procurement companies bribe Eskom employees to proactively break equipment to give them more business.

Rafadi added that many Eskom procurement partners and vendors are linked to crime syndicates because of how they operate.

Most of these vendors are not well funded, so they don’t have money to procure the parts Eskom needs if they get an order.

To get their hands on money to buy the products, they approach anybody who can help them. This can include crime syndicates like the construction mafia.

They share the profits from the Eskom procurement contracts with the people who gave them money.


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