Home South African Criminality at Eskom: Bulletproof vests and bodyguards needed for plant managers

Criminality at Eskom: Bulletproof vests and bodyguards needed for plant managers

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Outgoing Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter detailed how criminality and corruption continued to hinder efforts to rehabilitate Eskom and particularly the recovery of power stations that contributed the most to load shedding

The Eskom board and outgoing CEO Andre de Ruyter faced MPs for the first time this year when they appeared before Parliament’s finance watchdog, Scopa, on Tuesday. Picture: Armand Hough, African News Agency (ANA)

CAPE TOWN – During Eskom’s first meeting for the year with the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) on Tuesday, Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter detailed how criminality and corruption continued to hinder their efforts to rehabilitate Eskom and particularly the recovery of power stations that contributed the most to load shedding.

The top six stations that contribute the most to load shedding are Tutuka, Duvha, Majuba, Kusile, Matla and Kendal.

De Ruyter said these would be getting extra attention over the next two years in the recently announced Generation Recovery Plan to enable better reliability and availability of its units over the next two years.

However, for this plan to be successful, a number of further resources and factors needed to align, including ensuring that these stations did not deteriorate further.

De Ruyter said the Tutuka power station in Mpumalanga had been characterised by significant criminality and was currently running at an Energy Availability Factor (EAF) of between 15% and 17%, despite being one of the newest in Eskom’s coal fleet.

“This also happens to be the station where the plant general manager has to wear a bulletproof vest, accompanied by two bodyguards whenever he walks through the plant.

“His wife is protected by bodyguards and when his kids go to school, they are also protected by bodyguards. This is due to threats to his life and his family.

“Criminality remains an egregious component in Mpumalanga and needs to be addressed very firmly,” De Ruyter said.

Scopa grilled the Eskom board and executives over how the power utility planned to prevent the country from plunging into further darkness and the direction that Eskom was heading in amid its deteriorating ability to supply power.

The main question Scopa sought to have answered was when load shedding would be stopped, not just reduced.

Addressing the board, Scopa chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa (IFP) said it was critical that Eskom be able to project when it would be able to achieve the requirements to rid the country of load shedding completely.

Hlengwa said this inability was affecting economic certainty, business management, job creation, basic household management and higher budgeting for households, which were now having to buy fuel to manage generators that they have also had to buy.

De Ruyter and board chairperson Mpho Makwana explained that addressing the electricity crisis required both the improvement of Eskom’s plant performance while urgently bringing additional capacity online.

The Eskom board relayed that the plan to end load shedding required EAF recovery, additional capacity and government enablers.

The board said corruption in coal continued even today. When installing “load cells” on trucks to monitor whenever coal is taken off or added, a senior manager was approached by an individual with a bribe to allow this particular individual access for R50,000.

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