Ramaphosa: Act of sabotage contributed to load shedding

President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has blamed “an act of sabotage” for contributing to the recent load shedding.

“What has also come out as a great concern is that there has been a measure of sabotage, sabotage that has lead to the loss – during this period – of 2 000MW, where someone in the Eskom system disconnected one of the instruments that finally lead to one of the boilers tripping, and us losing as much as 2 000MW,” Ramaphosa said after a meeting with Eskom management on Wednesday.

Ramaphosa – alongside Deputy President David Mabuza and Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe – visited Eskom’s Megawatt Park headquarters in Johannesburg to get to the crux of what caused the recent spate of load shedding.

Ramaphosa said law enforcement agencies were looking into the sabotage at the Tutuka power station. He said that the sabotage, in conjunction with wet coal and other factors, led to Eskom implementing stage 6 load-shedding on Monday night.

Ramaphosa and the Eskom management apologised for the load-shedding and the president assured the country that there will be no load-shedding from December 17 till January 13.

He also said Eskom staff would not be enjoying any leave until load shedding had been dealt with.

Eskom chief operating officer, Jan Oberholzer, said having to implement stage 6 load shedding was embarrassing.

He said Eskom was dealing with a system that was constrained and has been neglected and that 5000MW of additional capacity was needed to provide relief to the system.

Eskom was looking at using the combined gas turbine power plants to provide the capacity.

“We would have to look at the business case for this, how much the gas will it be, how much it will cost, etc,” Oberholzer said.

He admitted that Medupi and Kusile still faced defects: “We are now focusing on getting the power stations to work the way they were designed to work instead of focusing on blaming each other.”

Oberholzer said that the excessive rain contributed to 4000MW but “if we didn’t have a plan for the rain we would have been in a tight spot”.

Eskom head of generation, Bheki Nxumalo, said they have started to bring back units like Matimba which were undergoing summer cycle maintenance.

He said that these coming back on the system will ensure there is no load shedding until January 13.

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