Sabotage led to stage 6 load shedding, says Cyril
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.