Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said there have recently been incidences at Eskom that require further investigation and did not rule out sabotage as a reason for higher load-shedding stages.
Ramokgopa told eNCA that, despite incidences of sabotage, most Eskom employees are not corrupt. “The great majority of the people at Eskom are honest, professional, competent, and patriotic,” he said.
“But we accept that in an organisation the size of Eskom, there will be those elements whose intention is to reverse the hard-earned gains of the democratic project out of malfeasance, personal gains, or whatever their agenda is.”
However, he said most of Eskom’s employees are committed to resolving the country’s energy crisis.
“Yes, there are one or two encounters that suggest that we need to investigate further”, he said, adding that this is not his domain and will be undertaken by Eskom’s management.
When asked to clarify whether the stage 5 and 6 load-shedding the country is currently experiencing had nothing to do with sabotage, the minister said, “I did not make an absolute statement”.
“I have stated to you what we know, and I just said that there is one of two incidences that require further investigation,” he said.
Ramokgopa refused to elaborate on the incidents and the power stations where they took place, saying, “We think there is something they need to be answering for”.
The minister’s comment comes after recent allegations that increased load-shedding, which hit stage 6 last week, is caused by sabotage and is a manufactured problem.
On 10 February, Eskom announced that it had implemented Stage 6 load-shedding until further notice.
“Despite returning two generating units to service over the last 24 hours, two generating units were also taken offline,” Eskom said.
“This, combined with the need to replenish the pumped storage dams, necessitated the implementation of stage 6 load shedding from midnight until further notice.”
The escalation to stage 6 load-shedding came shortly after President Cyril Ramaphosa told the nation the worst days of load-shedding were behind us in his 2024 State of the Nation address.
“We are on track to resolve the most important constraints on economic growth by stabilising our energy supply and fixing our logistics system,” he said.
“We set out a clear plan to end load-shedding, which we have been implementing with a single-minded focus through the National Energy Crisis Committee.”
He added that they have delivered on their commitments to bring substantial new power to the grid through private investment. “It is already helping to reduce load-shedding,” he said.
“Through all these actions, we are confident that the worst is behind us, and the end of load-shedding is finally within reach.”
However, within hours of Ramaphosa’s speech, Eskom increased load-shedding to stage 4 after taking down two generating units for repairs.
Many South Africans were already angry about Ramaphosa singing the government’s praises despite the country falling apart. The increased load-shedding aggravated their anger.
Ramaphosa and the ANC looked like fools, with many commentators pointing to the President living in an alternative reality to ordinary South Africans.
ANC Secretary General Fikile Mbalula responded that stage 6 load-shedding was clear sabotage. He called for extra security measures to prevent it from happening again.
In June last year, Ramokgopa said sabotage at Eskom was of grave concern and catastrophic proportions, with highly organised attempts to undermine the country’s electricity supply.
The minister said addressing sabotage at Eskom is a priority as it 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.