Sabotage adding about a stage to loadshedding, says Eskom’s De Ruyter

Eskom CEO, André de Ruyter

SABOTAGE of equipment and plant was adding at least a stage of loadshedding in South Africa, said André de Ruyter, CEO of state-owned power utility, Eskom.

Speaking in an interview with SAfm, a radio station De Ruyter said that some sabotage necessitated a call out which was beneficial to contractors who were involved in the racket. “I would say on average there is a stage or two of load-shedding that can be attributed to these criminal activities,” said De Ruyter.

At the Lethabo power station an unknown person cut through a conveyor belt that fed coal into the boilers, he said. At the Camden power station, when Eskom’s security services apprehended a suspect, they found the motive for the sabotage that led to the breaking down of equipment was to secure more work from Eskom.

“This is a pattern. We found it at other power stations as well. At Tutuka, for example, people deliberately break equipment because that results in a maintenance callout, which puts money into the pockets of the maintenance contractors,” said De Ruyter.

“Of course, there are other factors in place where no doubt [these criminals] want to exacerbate load-shedding, and we suspect to put more pressure on players including myself and the management teams,” he said.

“I think at certain levels these things are connected by the motive. There are networks that operate within Eskom that have, over the years, established themselves. Through all these criminal acts, they are essentially stealing a huge amount of money from the organisation.”

De Ruyter said they had been disrupting the networks and arresting suspects, and had implemented enhanced controls, including physical security and surveillance.