Eskom infrastructure hit by wave of damage

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Last month, Eskom found clear evidence that points to sabotage at its Lethabo power station near Vereeniging in the Free State.
Last month, Eskom found clear evidence that points to sabotage at its Lethabo power station near Vereeniging in the Free State.
Gallo Images

Eskom has been hit by a wave of illegal activity, which has triggered power outages.

In recent days, the Lanseria area in particular has seen suspect activity, a source, who spoke to Fin24 on condition of anonymity, said.

"They are just cutting poles and they are not taking anything. Transformers are left on the ground, untouched," one person told Fin24.

Last month, Eskom found clear evidence that points to sabotage at its Lethabo power station near Vereeniging in the Free State.

Supports attached to a small pylon carrying power lines that feed electricity to the power station's overland coal conveyor, were cut, which caused it to topple over onto a backup power line, rendering both inoperable.

The utility is also encountering an increase in cable theft. On Tuesday, the Bedfordview substation was left damaged during a cable theft attempt, which also involved vandalism of the electricity infrastructure. 

eskom
Damaged cables at the Bedfordview substation.
Supplied Photo: Eskom
eskom
Eskom had to dig trenches of about 25m long as it repaired the damaged infrastructure at the Bedfordview substation.
Supplied Photo: Eskom

This caused widespread power cuts, supply in the area was restored on Thursday at 22:00. Eskom has expected full restoration on Saturday only as rain interrupted the repairs.

Earlier this week, an electricity tower at the Bighorn substation near Marikana in the North West also collapsed due to vandalism and theft.

Last week, an Eskom employee was arrested after being in possession of 170m of copper cable, stolen from Eskom's warehouse in Welkom. The cable was worth R540 000.

"The fight against theft and vandalism is ongoing and it requires partnership with more stakeholders, especially the communities," Eskom said in a statement issued on Friday. Eskom said it will continue to investigate and implement alternative measures that will assist in preventing theft and vandalism of its electricity infrastructure.

In a written response on Friday, Eskom said it had removed transformers that were illegally connected to its network, a move that was followed by vandalism of the power supplier’s transformers.

Eskom Gauteng’s spokesperson, Amanda Qithi, explained that law enforcement is now investigating the incidents. 

"We have seen an increase in illegal electricity-related activities in Gauteng, and we have intensified efforts to address the ongoing theft and vandalism. We will continue to investigate and implement alternative measures that will assist us to prevent theft and vandalism," Qithi added.

She said Eskom was dealing with the issue by conducting more frequent patrols, raising awareness on theft and vandalism of its infrastructure and urging community members to report individuals making illegal connections or damaging the state power supplier’s infrastructure.

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