Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa revealed that 2,147 criminal cases relating to Eskom have been reported to the police, with 1,586 under investigation and 126 arrests since April 2022.
He explained one of the nine work streams at the National Electricity Crisis Committee (Necom) is focused on security, crime, and safety at Eskom.
“It is a gradual but meaningful progress. We are focused on some of the underlying problems like fraud, corruption, and security at Eskom,” he said.
The security unit is embedded at Eskom and interacts with the police stations attached to the various power stations.
“They make regular visits to the Eskom power stations and other stakeholders, like second-hand dealers, to get a better view of the anatomy of the criminal operations,” Ramokgopa said.
One of the areas the security unit is targeting is scrap metal dealers to stop the lucrative trade in cable theft.
“They have visited around 15,043 scrap metal dealers and did compliance inspections to cut the arteries of the criminal syndicates,” he said.
The work from the security and intelligence services translates into better performance by Eskom’s power stations and grid.
The agency has recovered R94 million in ill-gotten gains related to Eskom between April 2022 and July 2023.
Eskom corruption and fraud understated
Ramokgopa previously said that corruption and fraud at Eskom are understated despite it being so well documented.
Corruption and fraud are only a part of Eskom’s problems, but they are by far the most well-documented.
He said Necom had identified the prosecution of corruption, fraud, and sabotage at the utility as critical to the turnaround of Eskom.
Ramokgopa said this is “one of the challenges that is well-documented” and requires more attention and effort from Eskom and law enforcement agencies.
Despite being well-documented, Ramokgopa said it is an area that is understated.
Eskom has to isolate stations notorious for having low Energy Availability Factors (EAF), which indicates embedded corruption and sabotage.
If a power station or a unit consistently underperforms its peers, then an external factor affects its performance.
Issues such as perennial boiler tube leaks, incorrect filters, or improper equipment are signs of corruption and fraud involved in procurement.
A key factor in tackling corruption and fraud at Eskom is stabilising the relationship with labour on a local level by continuously engaging with employees and labour unions.
This will boost morale and enhance the productivity of workers at Eskom, said Ramokgopa, resulting in higher quality maintenance being done.