Eskom rejects ‘stage 6 sabotage’ noise

 ·12 Feb 2024

Eskom Head of Generation, Bheki Nxumalo and Electricity Minister Kgosientso Ramokgopa have rejected allegations that the cause of the recent return to stage 6 load shedding is because of sabotage.

ANC Secretary General Filike Mbalula made the allegation on Saturday (10 February) after the country was suddenly thrust back into stage 6 load shedding during a midnight update from Eskom.

“Stage 6 load shedding (is) clear sabotage,” Mbaluala said. “Strong extra security measures are needed.”

However, during an urgent system update on Sunday, both Nxumalo and Ramokgopa said that while investigations have been launched into the allegations, no conclusions have been drawn.

Ramokgopa went further to say that unfounded allegations of malfeasance at Eskom are doing more harm than good. Such claims are painting the struggling power utility with “broad negative brushstrokes”, he said, and repelling much-needed expertise from wanting to work there.

Eskom reiterated that the cause of the return to stage 5 and stage 6 is the breakdowns tied to boiler tube leaks at nine units. This resulted in over 4,000 megawatts being taken off the grid.

Screenshot of Fikile Mbalula’s post. Source: X

While the cause of the current crisis is known, Eskom said it is investigating possible sabotage – but this is standard practice at the utility as it constantly gathers intelligence on bad actors within its operations.

“We are doing investigations within our coal space everywhere, so these are ongoing things to look for intelligence,” said Nxumalo.

“But currently, what’s happened that’s led to (Stage 6 load shedding), you’ve seen it in the biggest changes at Medupi and a series of pipe leaks that also happened between Thursday and Friday as well,” he said.

Speaking to eNCA Ramokgopa said that there are “one or two encounters” of suspected sabotage that require investigation from Eskom. However, he would not share any further details.

The minister said that in an organisation as large as Eskom, there are bound to be people intent on seeing the “hard-earned gains” reversed.

However, Ramokgopa said that people should not paint the power utility with a broad brushstroke.

He said that while there are elements of people with “malfeasance, personal gains or whatever their agenda,” it should not take away from “the great majority of the people at Eskom, as they are honest, professional, competent and patriotic.”

The electricity minister said that it is proving difficult to recruit experts for the utility due to its widespread negative image, including the allegations of sabotage.

“We would want to have more people coming into this organization and (what)… repels people… (is) the cloud that everyone that is wearing an Eskom uniform bad is corrupt, incompetent and all of that,” said Ramokgopa.

“It’s no (longer) prestigious to wear the Eskom colours,” he added.

Read: Ramokgopa’s plan to tackle stage 5 and 6 load shedding in South Africa

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