Hawks open case linked to Eskom 'sabotage' claims

Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer told Cape Talk that the sabotage was not the root of load-shedding but it did contribute to it.
Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer told Cape Talk that the sabotage was not the root of load-shedding but it did contribute to it.
Image: Business Times

The Hawks have confirmed that they are investigating claims of sabotage at an Eskom power station.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said last week that one of the reasons for SA being plunged into unprecedented stage 6 load-shedding was that an Eskom insider had engaged in sabotage at the Tutuka power plant in Mpumalanga.

The nature of the alleged sabotage was not disclosed.

Hawks spokesperson Brig Hangwani Mulaudzi told SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE that a case had been opened. However, he said it was too early to provide specifics.

“The case has been referred to the Hawks to investigate allegations of tampering with or damaging essential infrastructure and sabotage. It is premature to communicate about this matter as it is still in its infancy stage,” he said via a text message.

The sabotage, allegedly at the hands of an Eskom insider, led to two boilers being disconnected.

“The sabotage happened in a way where we lost 2,000MW. The wet coal led to a loss of additional megawatts. All that was a combination. Sabotage is not the only factor that led to load-shedding,” Ramaphosa said at a media briefing a week ago.

He first said that “someone in the Eskom system” disconnected an instrument that led to two boilers tripping, which resulted in the 2,000MW loss.

The next day, speaking during a radio interview, Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer said the alleged sabotage was carried out by people with full knowledge of the Tutuka station.

Oberholzer told Cape Talk that the sabotage was not the root of load-shedding but contributed to it.

“I cannot talk about it, unfortunately, because we are busy with the investigation with the police. All I can comment on, is that it has obviously been done by an individual or individuals with full knowledge of the power station, to know if you do x, y, z, you are tripping the boilers,” he said.

There has not been load-shedding since the weekend.