Sab­o­tage led to stage 6 load shed­ding, says Cyril

The Citizen (KZN) - - News - Amanda Wat­son

It was the 2006 Koe­berg nu­clear re­ac­tor bolt all over again as a “shocked and “sur­prised” Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa blamed sab­o­tage at Tuthuka power plant for con­tribut­ing to the stage 6 load shed­ding on Mon­day night.

The sab­o­tage cost the sys­tem 2000MW, Ramaphosa said, and noted wet coal had also led to loss of ef­fi­ciency at some boil­ers.

Based in Mpumalanga, Tu­tuka con­sists of six 609MW units with an in­stalled ca­pac­ity of 3 654MW and ap­prox­i­mately 850 em­ploy­ees, ac­cord­ing to Eskom.

While Ramaphosa was on his way to Egypt, he heard stage 6 load shed­ding had been im­ple­mented, news he was “sur­prised and shocked” to hear.

For­mer public pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela asked on Twit­ter yes­ter­day if the load shed­ding was an act of in­dus­trial sab­o­tage for “ne­far­i­ous rea­sons”.

“Who could be the cul­prits?” Madon­sela asked.

While the sys­tem was un­re­li­able and un­pre­dictable, Ramaphosa said, it was of “great con­cern” there had been a “mea­sure of sab­o­tage dur­ing this pe­riod which led to the loss of 2000MW where some­one in the Eskom sys­tem dis­con­nected one of the in­stru­ments which fi­nally led to two of the boil­ers trip­ping”.

Cable theft and col­lapsed py­lons were also be­ing in­ves­ti­gated.

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Daniel Silke said Ramaphosa seemed to show lit­tle ur­gency over the is­sue.

“This ex­tends the de­bate about Eskom be­yond the tech­ni­cal, man­age­ment and pol­icy de­fi­cien­cies to the se­cu­rity realm,” Silke said.

“Given the vul­ner­a­bil­ity of the elec­tric­ity grid, the phys­i­cal se­cu­rity should be el­e­vated to para­mount im­por­tance.”

Silke said he would have liked Ramaphosa to say he would be meet­ing with his se­cu­rity clus­ter ur­gently to ad­dress the is­sue.

“While there was an ad­mis­sion of the sab­o­tage, there al­most seemed to be a lack of ur­gency in re­fer­ring to it, which was con­cern­ing to me,” Silke said.

Ear­lier, on Twit­ter, Silke called it an “as­tound­ing ad­mis­sion”.

“If true, the se­cu­rity of state in­stal­la­tions now is para­mount, along­side en­hanced in­tel­li­gence,” Silke said.

“If sab­o­tage be­comes le­git­imised in crit­i­cal sec­tors of the state, it’s an eco­nomic death-knell to South Africa and its ef­forts to il­licit global in­vest­ment.”

Ramaphosa said he wanted the sab­o­tage to be in­ves­ti­gated and se­cu­rity to be in­creased.

In 2006, then public en­ter­prises min­is­ter Alec Er­win stated a loose bolt which had brought one of Koe­berg’s re­ac­tors to a stand­still had been de­lib­er­ately tossed into a re­ac­tor tur­bine.

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