ESKOM’S power stations are under attack from within after the government-owned utility confirmed today sabotage at its Tutuka facility where a cable had been severed delaying its return to service by three days and worsening South Africa’s power suppy deficit.
The event occurred this week at Tutuka’s Unit 5. Only hours later, Eskom discovered that a control air pipe supplying the turbine systems had been cut with a power tool and part of it removed. Repairs took place and Tutuka is expected to return to service today.
There have been 25 days of rolling blackouts so far this year. According to energy expert Mike Rossouw, the country should prepare for Stage 7 load-shedding (power rationing) owing to continued breakdowns of Eskom’s fleet.
“Eskom believes these were deliberate acts of sabotage by someone who had access to the site where only employees have access and knows the security features in the area quite well,” the company said in a statement. “Eskom has laid criminal charges with the South African Police Service and its forensic team is assisting with the investigation.”
This was the fifth incident of sabotage since March 2021, and all of these have been reported to the police, it said adding that measures had been adopted to improve security at all its power stations.
“While these measures have significantly improved security at Tutuka, including a reduction in cable theft incidents, it is to be noted that incidents such as this one serve as an opportunity to apply further improvements to securing the facility and the supply of electricity,” said Eskom.
Sabotage at Eskom has echoes of events that took place at Transnet last year. The logistics and freight firm said in July that a derailment interrupting coal exports was down to suspicious activity. “There are serious risks in a recovery system based on emergency procurement, which may be open to abuse not only internally, but by suppliers who benefit from such incidents occurring,” it said.