Load shedding 'sabotage': Crime intelligence investigating Eskom power woes

The police’s crime intelligence unit is investigating whether the rolling electricity blackouts are the result of sabotage by Eskom employees.

Senior sources within crime intelligence have confirmed to News24 that there is currently a project running to establish whether the outages are deliberate and the work of aggrieved workers.

MORE: Guardians for Eskom’s power stations as load shedding fears continue

One operative said the project is also looking at whether the situation could get worse around the election period in order to leverage their position.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan told the media on Tuesday there were suspicions of sabotage during instances of load shedding in 2018, but that they have not yet uncovered evidence of sabotage in 2019. The country has been suffering under load shedding since the beginning of the year.

Resisting restructure and reform

Highly placed government sources say there seems to be a concerted effort by some inside Eskom to resist efforts to restructure and reform the embattled power utility. Some of these employees were part of the state capture network and remain loyal to it, either to maintain the networks of patronage or to frustrate reform efforts and to remain out of jail.
According to information shared with News24 by government officials, former Eskom executives Brian Molefe and Matshela Koko seemingly moved managers aligned to their interests into senior positions and centralised control at Eskom headquarters at Megawatt Park.

READ: I have no comment on Eskom - Brian Molefe

The new Eskom management and board is now trying to undo this web by decentralising control, ensuring that people with the right skills and experience is deployed to power stations and that those managers receive the necessary support to effect change.

There is a belief that the timing of public statements by Koko, certain EFF politicians and other supporters of nuclear power aren’t coincidences and that it is related to the internal resistance at Eskom against reform efforts. Koko, who resigned amid allegations of corruption, has recently been vocal in his criticism of Eskom and government and has even emerged as an energy expert.

Gordhan on Tuesday told journalists that he expects the National Prosecuting Authority to act on information about Eskom corruption already in the public domain and that ensuring accountability will aid in cleaning up the state-owned company.

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