Top executive linked to acts of sabotage at Eskom: report

 ·4 Jun 2023

A high-ranking Eskom executive may soon face criminal charges as the police compile damning evidence that reveals their part in allegedly engineering and sabotaging various power stations – resulting in breakdowns.

The City Press reports that high-level discussions have taken place between security cluster ministers over serious allegations against the executive.

WhatsApp messages obtained by the police and the State Security Agency (SSA) are reportedly being investigated and potentially expose the suspected Eskom executive’s modus operandi in sabotaging power-generating units at targeted stations.

The allegations extend beyond just the unnamed executive and involve a forensic auditor, Eskom engineers, unemployed artisans, and families of those involved, the paper said.

In the messages obtained by City Press, the executive and co-conspirator openly discuss strategies to sabotage several power stations while showing further evidence that they have been successful in the past.

The alleged modus operandi follows similar lines to those found guilty of sabotage in the past: conspirators would actively damage power stations, requiring various services tied to the parties involved, who then score contracts.

In this case, however, a top executive is accused of using their influence to generate the work needed for the contracts.

The paper said that a spokesperson of the SSA and the minister of police Bheki Cele acknowledged the interest in the executive and noted that high-level investigations are ongoing – and that various stakeholders have been informed, including President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Eskom said the executive in question was not currently a person of interest.

Sabotage rampant

Earlier this year, station managers at Eskom noted how sabotage was rampant at the various facilities and is one of the main drivers behind the country’s power crisis.

The managers said that Eskom’s problems aren’t necessarily a lack of skills and messy operation plans – where energy experts and analysts often lay the blame – the main culprit behind the country’s power problems is rampant criminality, including acts of theft and sabotage.

Managers said that criminal elements are actively sabotaging Eskom’s power stations on a regular basis – either motivated by political ends or out of spite for being passed over for promotions or other perks.

In 2022, Eskom also confirmed that some acts of sabotage were by contractors looking to secure further work from the power utility after a culprit was caught in the act and confessed.

In that case, the contract worker was caught damaging a power station in the hopes that his bosses would be able to secure more contracts from the utility.

Eskom is under siege by criminals, from low-level opportunistic and petty thieves to complex and highly organised syndicates. The list of criminal activities it has had to suffer is storied and long, with coal theft, diesel theft, contract exploitation, high-level corruption and even threats of violence adding to the stresses.

The power utility has been fighting an uphill battle against these criminal elements but has scored at least some victories, having arrested several workers, contractors and others involved in these criminal acts.

However, as revealed by former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter – corroborated by presentations to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts – the criminal networks, syndicates and bad actors are spread wide among the group’s operations.

Read: Eskom under threat says major rating agency

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