Sabotage almost plunged South Africa into Stage 6 load shedding, says Eskom
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Pretoria – Power utility Eskom’s CEO André de Ruyter on Friday said unidentified individuals had sabotaged the power utility by cutting supporting steel pylons on the main distribution lines feeding electricity to the coal conveyor belts at Lethabo Power Station.
“You will recall that yesterday we indicated that at 6pm on Wednesday night a tower collapsed onto the second distribution line. This line then also tripped, so double redundancy was eliminated. The line is a high capacity line for distribution and the stage that was cut are galvanized steel rods which are 24 millimetres in diameter,” said De Ruyter.
“These are very sturdy rods. The perpetrators of this cut all eight stays (metal support structures). There is no sign of corrosion, no sign of metal fatigue and there was no shearing of the stays. There is clear evidence that there was some cutting instrument involved – whether that is a hacksaw or an angle-grinder, we will determine,” he said.
De Ruyter said what further raised suspicion that this was “a deliberate act of sabotage” was the fact that nothing was stolen after the pylon was cut.
“The stay was cut, the tower was pushed over onto the other line, but nothing was stolen. This is not an economic crime but this was now an act of sabotage and I think we can call it as such,” he said and showed pictured of the cut steel structures.
De Ruyter said power supply had been lost to the conveyor belts feeding coal to the Lethabo Power Station. Eskom would have run out of coal at the power station for up to six hours as that is the capacity of the bunkers at Lethabo.
“This would then have caused us to lose our most reliable unit. At this point in time we lost about 3600 megawatts and it would have put us in much worse than Stage 4 load shedding, probably Stage 6 load shedding through a deliberate act of sabotage,” he said.
Earlier this week, De Ruyter told parliamentarians that the latest instalment of Stage 2 load shedding, starting on Wednesday until Saturday, was regrettable.