Eskom kisses millions goodbye as 232 transformers get stolen in one year

 ·28 Feb 2024

Gordan has revealed that 44,043 electrical infrastructure theft incidents have been reported from 2018/19 to February 2024 – including 232 stolen transformers worth an estimated R19 million.

These numbers were presented in a recent parliament Q&A session, in which the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordan, was asked about the reported cases of theft and vandalism of electricity infrastructure – including the financial cost incurred.

According to Gordhan’s response, KwaZulu-Natal had the highest number of electrical infrastructure theft incidents over six years, with 8,598 cases.

The Eastern Cape came in second with 7,129 incidents, followed by Gauteng with 7,030.

Limpopo recorded 4,691 incidents, North West 4,522, Mpumalanga 4,433, Free State 3,345, and Northern Cape 2,544. Western Cape had the lowest number of theft incidents at 1,751.

Of these incidents, Gordan noted that 232 transformers were reported stolen, with a direct loss of R18,953,668.45.

However, the cost and loss of transformers to theft are likely far worse, as the numbers provided by Gorhand are for the 2022/23 financial year alone while stating the number of transformer thefts in other years is unavailable.

Of the 232 stolen transformers in 2022/23. Mpumalanga recorded the most cases of such theft (85), followed by Gauteng (75) and Limpopo with 43 stolen transformers.

ProvinceNo. stolen Direct value loss
Eastern Cape3R95 526
Free State6R4 212 323
Gauteng75R2 115 967
Kwa-Zulu Natal3R199 896
Limpopo43R8 169 166
Mpumalanga85R3 504 533
Northern Cape1R110 000
North West13R460 965
Western Cape3R85 293
Total:232R18 953 668

Gordhan also revealed that the total number of failed transformers across the nine provinces due to theft was 1,347 as of 9 February 2024.

He said failed transformers were replaced daily, while failures due to theft and vandalism also occur frequently.

“The leading causes of these transformer failures include overloading (which occurs when customers have tampered with or bypassed their meters), illegal connections (which have bypassed the fuses and breakers that are meant to protect the transformer from overloading), as well as theft and vandalism.

“Eskom remains committed to replacing failed transformers soon after tamper fines have been paid by the customers and the replacement criteria have been met,” the minister said.

Gordhan stated that several measures were being implemented to repair and safeguard the electrical infrastructure.

He mentioned that they were working with the SAPS, the State Security Agency, the National Prosecuting Authority, and national and provincial joint operational and intelligence units.

He added these collaborations will provide ongoing assistance to Eskom concerning crime prevention, disruptive operations, intelligence gathering, investigations, arrests, and prosecutions.

Gordhan stated that technology was being implemented to inform security designs for Eskom facilities, including substations and power lines, while Eskom was “continuously assessing risks and threats and developing appropriate plans for high-risk sites.”

He added that there was collaboration with communities to create awareness and encouraged them to pay for electricity and take ownership.

Gordhan added that the power utility also partners with the private security industry to safeguard critical electricity infrastructure.

Read: South Africa’s insane year for solar

Show comments
Subscribe to our daily newsletter