Sibanye-Stillwater employees returned safely after storm blows over vandalised pylons

SIBANYE Stillwater said about 20 employees providing care and maintenance services at its Cooke shafts west of Johannesburg were returned to surface following a power interruption on Monday.

“The power lines fell over as a result of theft and vandalism. It’s a common occurrence. People steal steel from pylons all the time,” said James Wellsted, spokesman for the gold and platinum producer.

Power was cut at 3pm on Monday and restored three hours later after Sibanye-Stillwater provided backup power, he said. “We restored power. No-one was trapped,” he said.

Eskom issued a statement saying 132kV power lines fell over following a storm as “the integrity of the pylons along these lines was compromised”. It said gold production had come “to a grinding halt” as a result of the pylon collapse, but Wellsted the Cooke shafts had been closed since 2017. “We are waiting for a closure certificate,” he added.

Wellsted said the company had to lay two kilometres of cable at its Marikana platinum group metal operations last year after steel from power lines had been stolen. “It’s a sign of the rising criminal element in the country,” he said.

In 2018, about 900 miners were trapped underground at Beatrix for more than 24 hours following a power outage following a storm. They were returned to safety.