Four people who were initially charged with 36 000 charges collectively of electricity theft have been found guilty of more than 16 000 of them, Eskom said in a statement on Saturday. The power giant said the four accused included a mother and son, aged 56 and 23. The four, who collectively faced over 36 000 charges related to electricity theft, were found guilty on 16 451 counts in the Palm Ridge Regional Court on Monday.
Eskom has started buying coal for its Arnot power station from a mine that is being acquired by the Gupta family, friends of President Jacob Zuma, after a contract with Exxaro Resources was cancelled, said three people, who did not want to be named. Eskom Holdings did not renew Exxaro’s contract to supply Arnot from a nearby mine at the end of December because, it said, the prices were too high. Arnot was supplying 20% of the 2000MW power station’s coal needs, Eskom said.
Eskom went to “extraordinary lengths” to ensure the Gupta family scored a R4-billion coal supply deal from the parastatal. This is according to a report in the Sunday Times. The report states that the Gupta mine linked to the multi-billion rand deal had failed coal quality tests four times, before being awarded the lucrative deal on the fifth try. Shortly after the deal was concluded, it is reported that four Eskom employees were suspended for questioning the quality of the coal.
Ousted Eskom boss Zola Tsotsi bent the power utility’s rules to push through a R400-million-a-year coal supply contract for the powerful and connected Gupta family. This is just one of several questionable deals allegedly championed by Tsotsi, who quit on March 31, just before being fired.
Illegal electricity connections are a major problem in South Africa. Eskom has long warned of the dangers of illegal electricity connections, but the potentially fatal consequences of power theft were brought into stark relief by recent reports of the death of Princess Ntuli.
At least two Eskom employees have been arrested in connection with fraud that could have resulted in the power utility loosing billions of rand. At least two Eskom employees have been arrested in connection with fraud that could have resulted in the power utility loosing billions of rand, the Hawks said on Wednesday.
A crisis caused by metal thieves, which would have plunged Pietermaritzburg into darkness, was averted yesterday by municipal officials and Eskom, but the damage will cost R1 million to repair. The main power supply pylon to Pietermaritzburg, in Camps Drift, was tilting and, had it fallen, it would have taken days to restore the electricity supply.