Andre de Ruyter’s Eskom sabotage claims and what happened since he left

Andre de Ruyter

Equipment sabotage at Eskom’s power stations has essentially disappeared, with the utility saying its operations have been unaffected by it in the current financial year. This marks a stark difference from the state of affairs during former CEO Andre de Ruyter’s tenure. 

During his tenure as chief executive, De Ruyter claimed to have exposed a “sustained campaign of sabotage” that lasted for years and crippled Eskom’s operations. 

The former CEO outlined specific instances of intentional sabotage at Eskom’s power stations in an affidavit used in a court case last year. 

“Eskom’s various power stations have experienced widespread sabotage, criminality, and destructive and unlawful industrial action,” De Ruyter said. 

He explained that sabotage was not the only factor in the utility’s dismal performance last year but that “it is clear that damage to Eskom property and operations has been deliberate”.

De Ruyter suggested the sheer number of incidents of damage to Eskom’s equipment “overwhelmingly confirms” that the utility experienced a sustained sabotage campaign. 

Eskom’s former CEO estimated that sabotage alone was responsible for around two stages of load-shedding. 

Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa made similar comments in the middle of last year, saying that sabotage at Eskom was of grave concern with highly organised attempts at crippling the country’s power supply. 

At the time, Ramokgopa warned that sabotage would negate any progress made in improving the reliability of Eskom’s stations. 

“We are placing significant amounts of effort in ensuring that we protect these assets and defend the gains we have made,” Ramokgopa said. 

In response to these concerns from De Ruyter and Ramokgopa, the National Electricity Crisis Committee (Necom) set aside a group of intelligence and police experts to focus solely on crime, corruption, and safety at Eskom.

Despite these efforts, Ramokgopa said that law enforcement must “go beyond the ordinary men to the main orchestrators and the brains behind the efforts to undermine electricity supply”.

The minister said he was “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”. 

Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa

Decline in sabotage since De Ruyter left

In response to questions from Daily Investor, Eskom said it has recorded a decline in the number of incidents of suspected sabotage in the current financial year. 

The utility attributed this decline to its collaboration with law enforcement agencies, including the South African National Defence Force (SANDF). 

President Cyril Ramaphosa deployed the SANDF to help the police and other agencies protect Eskom’s power stations and key infrastructure in December 2022. 

The army’s deployment was initially intended to last only a few months, but the president has repeatedly extended it. 

Ramaphosa recently extended the SANDF’s deployment from April 2024 to March 2025 but reduced the number of soldiers deployed. 

Since the army was first deployed in December 2022, it has cost taxpayers around R461 million to keep watch at Eskom’s stations. 

In its response, Eskom said it has also improved its crime-fighting capabilities. In particular, it has enhanced its prevention, monitoring, and detection strategies across the Generation business. 

The utility said it welcomes continued collaboration with law enforcement agencies to safeguard its power stations, infrastructure, and other National Key points. 

Eskom stated categorically that sabotage has not impacted its operations in the current financial year thanks to these interventions. 

This sudden decline in sabotage cases at Eskom and their reduced effect on its operations comes after a slight increase in the number of cases the utility reported to the police in the 2023 financial year. 

In the first three months of its 2023 financial year, Eskom reported more cases per month of vandalism, theft, and other crimes at the utility than it did during the previous financial year. 

During that three-month period, Eskom reported 497 cases to the police, or 165 per month, compared to the 160 per month run rate in the previous year. 

The increased police presence and the army’s deployment to Eskom’s power stations have resulted in more arrests, with 44 people arrested in the first three months of the past financial year. 

This amounts to around 15 arrests per month, compared to 11 per month for the 2022 financial year. 

The table below compares the number of cases of sabotage, vandalism, and theft reported to the police over the two periods.

Eskom crime cases reported to police
1 April 2022 – 31 May 20231 April 2023 – 28  June 2023
Cases reported to SAPS1,920497
Cases under investigation1,120466
Average cases reported per month160165
Average arrests per month1115


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