Eskom says it has opened criminal charges after discovering alleged sabotage incidents at the Tutuka Power Station.
According to spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha on Thursday, a cable was severed at the Tutuka Power Station this week while the power station was finalising preparations to return Unit 5 to service.
“The damage to the cable had the effect of delaying the unit’s return to service by three days as it took some time to locate the fault. Once discovered, the cable was repaired in a short space of time. The return to service of Unit 5 was then resumed,” said Mantshantsha.
A few hours later, Eskom discovered that there was a station control air pressure drop and the same Unit 5 Turbine systems which consume control air for operation were de-energised.
“It was later discovered that the control air pipe supplying the Turbine systems had been cut with a power tool and the entire bend removed. Same was welded back on and the system charged with control air before being normalised,” he said.
The unit is expected to return to service today.
Eskom said the acts of sabotage were done by someone who had access to the site where only employees have access and knows the security features in the area quite well.
Eskom has laid criminal charges with the South African Police Service (SAPS) and its forensic team is assisting with the investigation.
This is the fifth incident of sabotage since March 2021, and all of these have been reported to the police.
“As previously communicated, Eskom has employed measures to improve security at all its power stations in general and Tutuka Power Station in particular, where additional security personnel and smart technology have been introduced.
“While these measures have significantly improved security at Tutuka, including a reduction in cable theft incidents, it is to be noted that incidents such as this one serve as an opportunity to apply further improvements to securing the facility and the supply of electricity.”
Eskom staff being paid ‘well enough’
Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has previously warned Eskom employees who might be involved in “mischievous” and “nefarious” activities to rather focus on doing their job properly as they’re being paid well enough.
Briefing the portfolio committee on public enterprises, Gordhan said though he did not want to get into it, there was “some indication” that there might be “mischief” going on at Eskom which was contributing to the power crisis.
“There hasn’t been the kind of attention required in order to figure out what’s really going on. But there is a message that needs to go to the Eskom staff on one hand and also to those who still feel aggrieved because they had to leave the opportunities for all sorts of mischievous stuff at Eskom, and now want to retaliate in one form or another because egos wouldn’t allow them to accept that it’s time for them to move on and leave the job to somebody else to do,” said the minister.
READ MORE: Gordhan warns Eskom staff involved in ‘nefarious’ activities