There have been long-standing suspicions that internal sabotage at Eskom has been carried out for personal gain and political motives. The police and the SSA have obtained WhatsApp messages that, if confirmed, could expose the methods used by a high-ranking executive. The allegations extend beyond the executive in question and involve a forensic auditor, Eskom engineers, unemployed artisans, and their families, reports City Press.

By Staff Reporter

The South African Police Service (SAPS) and the State Security Agency (SSA) have identified a senior Eskom executive who is suspected to be the key figure behind the acts of sabotage that have been affecting the power utility’s generation fleet.

The security cluster ministers have been discussing serious allegations made against the executive. The allegations suggest that the executive deliberately appointed specific engineers to cause breakdowns in certain power stations, resulting in multiple income streams for themselves.

The Minister in the Presidency who is responsible for the SSA, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, has had urgent talks with the Police Minister, Bheki Cele, concerning the SAPS inquiries into the executive.

Cele had previously informed the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) that the said executive was under scrutiny and considered to be a person of interest.

He informed City Press: “I was told after my meeting with Scopa — where I said that the executive was a person of interest to the police — that the same individual was a person of interest to the police, and that interest has grown.”

According to Cele’s account to City Press, subsequent to a meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa, wherein the latter censured those affiliated with Eskom for being coerced into engaging in unlawful conduct, Cele’s team developed strong suspicion towards the executive in question.

According to the article, Cele’s team overheard a conversation between him and the executive and concluded that the executive was of significant importance due to their elevated status. The team believed that the executive possessed knowledge beyond what they had disclosed to Cele.

“My guys heard the executive talking to me and said this was someone of high interest because an individual in such a high-ranking position must know more than that person was telling us,” Cele told the newspaper.

Based on WhatsApp messages that were leaked between the person in question and the forensic auditor, it appears that they had intentionally caused power outages at Eskom power stations in the past. Additionally, the messages reveal that the executive actively discussed ways to deliberately sabotage power plants.

Eskom has had a long-standing problem with sabotage.

In court documents from April 2023, former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter claimed that Eskom had been the target of a sustained campaign of sabotage for years. His court documents listed numerous instances.

The overland coal conveyor at Majuba Power Station caught fire on 18 December 2019

A probe revealed that two valves that control the water flow in the fire suppression system were closed without authorisation. This led to Eskom having to transport coal via road, resulting in a daily cost of approximately R276,000 or R100 million per year, as the conveyor could not be utilised.

Towards the end of 2021, the transmission pylon supports that were responsible for carrying power lines to the overland coal conveyor of Lethabo Power Station were cut, leading to the collapse of the tower. The eight supports, also known as stays, were made of durable, galvanised steel rods that measured 24mm in diameter. An inquiry conducted into the incident revealed that a cutting tool was used to carry out the act.

De Ruyter stated that there was no theft, which increased the suspicion that the occurrence was a deliberate act of sabotage.

“What further arouses suspicion that this was a deliberate act of sabotage is that nothing was stolen. This was clearly now, an act of sabotage, and we can call it as such,” stated De Ruyter.

During the period of the Lethabo incident, a team working on the dry cooling fans at the Matimba Power Station dropped an extension cord onto the transformer of unit 2. As a result, the three cooling units at Matimba experienced a simultaneous trip and shutdown.

In November 2022, an individual contracted by the Camden Power Station was apprehended for intentionally damaging a generating unit, leading to the recurrent malfunctioning of the oil burners and ultimately causing the outage of Camden Unit 4. The contractor subsequently confessed to committing an act of sabotage and was arrested.

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