Eskom chief executive Andre de Ruyter has confirmed a deliberate act of sabotage near the Lethabo power station in Vereeniging almost led to a power crisis and higher stages of load shedding.
Presenting to a media briefing on Friday morning (19 November), de Ruyter said that there was clear evidence that an electricity pylon had been deliberately cut and felled ahead of the evening peak period on Wednesday (17 November).
Pictures presented by de Ruyter show that all eight stays – which are galvanized steel rods – showed no sign of corrosion or fatigue. However, he said that that there is clear evidence of a cutting instrument being used – either a hacksaw or an angle grinder.
“Nothing else was stolen, which indicates that this was not an economic crime and it was clearly an act of sabotage. We can call it as such,” he said.
De Ruyter added that the sabotage would have led to a loss of coal supply at Lethabo – which is, to date, one of the best running stations at Eskom’s fleets.
He added that, were it not for the hard work and quick thinking of Eskom employees, the country could have moved to as high as stage six load shedding.
The Eskom chief executive did not speculate on who exactly was behind the act of sabotage, but noted he was extremely disappointed that there are people in South Africa who would deliberately damage the country in this way.
De Ruyter confirmed that stage 1 load shedding will continue across South Africa for the rest of Friday, with no power outages expected this weekend provided there are no further breakdowns.
For people living in the major metros, load shedding schedules are available here:
- City of Johannesburg
- City of Ekurhuleni
- City of Tshwane
- City of Cape Town (PDF)
- Nelson Mandela Bay
- Buffalo City
For access to other load shedding schedules, Eskom has made them available on loadshedding.eskom.co.za.