An Eskom power station. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
An Eskom power station. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Load shedding disrupts victim testimonies during SAHRC unrest hearing

By Jehran Naidoo Time of article published Nov 17, 2021

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Durban - The Human Rights Commission’s hearings into the violence in KwaZulu-Natal have been dramatically cut short after Eskom implemented load shedding.

Eskom said the blackouts were due to insufficient generation capacity and the loss of a unit each at Medupi, Duvha, and the Kendal power stations on Wednesday morning.

It said the power cuts were going to be implemented because of the remaining emergency reserves at the OCGT (open cycle gas-turbine) and pump storage power stations in order to prevent higher stages of load shedding.

“Of the five units that failed yesterday, units at Majuba, Kriel and Matimba power stations have returned to service while the remaining two units are undergoing boiler tube leak repairs. Total breakdowns currently amount to 15 485 MW while planned maintenance is 4 100 MW of capacity,” Eskom said in a statement.

With the news of power cuts making its rounds via social media, the SAHRC panel decided that the day's programme, which initially was set to feature three witnesses, had to be disrupted.

The news came while the first witness for the day, Ntethelelo Mkhize, told how he was shot multiple times, beaten and laughed at by Indian men from Phoenix on July 12, when the violent riots reached a point of pandemonium in KwaZulu-Natal.

Mkhize, a 37-year-old lecturer at a TVET college in Durban, said that on July 12, he and eight friends were on their way back from a friend’s house near Cornubia when they were stopped, searched and shot at. One of his associates in the vehicle, Mzwandile Magwaza, was the second witness for the day, and gave his account on how the group suffered.

Three of Mkhize’s friends, all of whom were travelling in his Nissan Hardbody at the time, died that day from injuries sustained at the hands of the “Indian men and boys”.

“They said we are Zuma’s people. To be honest, I did not respond. They checked the vehicle, but after they didn’t find anything they said we could leave. A group of around 20 people had boys around the age of 12 to 14. As I was moving, a younger gentleman hit the vehicle with an axe. That angered even the occupants that were in the car. There were nine of us in the bakkie.

“Others were carrying golf sticks, bush knives and guns. That’s when I saw them assaulting Mr Magwaza, because he was behind the car talking to the men. After they hit Nzuna, the one who seemed to be their leader shot at him. There was a time that they were poking him with the firearm and putting it in his mouth. Nzuna was then shot.

“They were taking pictures and videos while this was happening. They told me to run to the river, run to the river. I tried to run and I fell, I was then shot again, for the third time, in my back. Next to my spinal cord. I tried to run until I landed on someone’s gate and screamed for help.

“A group of Indians came and asked me where I come from, who I am and where I work. It was the same people that were shooting and chasing me. After that I collapsed. I only regained consciousness when I was at a clinic in Phoenix. I don’t know how I got there,” Mkhize said.

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Political Bureau

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