More sabotage at Eskom as Hendrina power station cable is cut

Yet another incident of sabotage has occured at one of Eskom’s ageing power stations, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Friday.

A cable at Eskom’s Hendrina power station in Mpumalanga was cut, Gordhan said when delivering his department’s budget vote speech.

The cable is required to start a unit undergoing repairs. The flexible copper bars, required to synchronise the unit to the rest of the power infrastructure, were stolen, along with the reactor earth bars. 

Gordhan said the thieves were “obviously” people working in the power station. 

The revelation comes after Eskom confirmed that a cable was cut at its Tutuka power station near Standerton in Mpumalanga this week. The Tutuka cable was also cut when Eskom was attempting to return one of its units to service.

“The damage to the cable had the effect of delaying the unit’s return to service by three days as it took some time to locate the fault,” Eskom said in a statement. 

A few hours after the cable was repaired, Eskom employees discovered that the control air pipe supplying the unit’s turbine systems had been cut with a power tool and the entire bend removed. 

“Eskom believes these were deliberate acts of sabotage by someone who had access to the site where only employees have access and knows the security features in the area quite well,” Eskom said, adding that it had laid criminal charges with the police. 

The Tutuka incident marks the fifth alleged act of sabotage since March 2021.

Gordhan said the alleged acts of sabotage are directly linked to the bout of load-shedding the country currently faces. 

“And I thought it is important that honourable members and the public are aware of some of the challenges that we face — something that I will return to. Because these are all matters that ultimately impact every single person amongst the 60 million in South Africa,” he said.

“The acts of the greedy, the corrupt, the bullying, the counter-revolutionary set back our progress as a democracy and stop us from becoming a caring nation.”

Gordhan noted that, on top of the alleged sabotage, Eskom suffers from poor performance and a history of inadequate maintenance at its coal-fired fleet.

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Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She covers topics relating to labour, corruption and the law.

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