By Zukile Majova
Without providing any shred of evidence, the ANC claims Stage 6 load shedding was an act of sabotage.
Since President Cyril Ramaphosa dislodged Jacob Zuma from office, there have been a number of incidents where sabotage of Eskom’s network plunged the country into darkness.
At midnight on Friday, Eskom announced it would be cutting power to homes, businesses and factories by up to 12 hours a day.
Stage 6 came just a day after Ramaphosa delivered his State of the Nation Address (Sona), assuring the nation that the worst was over and that the end of load shedding was now in sight.
“Through all these actions, we are confident that the worst is behind us and the end of load shedding is finally within reach. But we are not stopping there to ensure we are not facing a similar crisis ever again,” said Ramaphosa during the Sona on Thursday night.
On Saturday, ANC secretary general Fikile Mbalula said this was the latest case of sabotage.
“Stage 6 load shedding is clear sabotage. Strong extra security measures are needed,” he said.
Because of previous cases of sabotage, in May 2023 Ramaphosa deployed 880 soldiers to some power stations in Mpumalanga.
The SAPS Hawks Unit has an elite team of detectives responsible for investigating crimes at Eskom.
Intelligence operatives have also been roped in to track criminal syndicates involved in incidents of sabotage of the country’s already unstable power grid.
So far, incidents of sabotage relate to ongoing conflicts over tender contracts in Eskom and competition between suppliers of coal and suppliers of diesel.
But in the current round of black-outs, Minister of Electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said boiler tube leaks at nine units caused the power shortage.
He said some 4,400 megawatts at Lethabo, Matimba, Duvha, Majuba, Camden, Grootvlei, Kriel and Medupi power stations had been taken off the grid.
“We are expecting to return [the other units] that failed… by Wednesday. By Tuesday, we are expecting to see a significant reduction, going back to Stages 4, 3, 2, and 1 [of load shedding]… As part of planned maintenance, a significant portion of units will come back towards the beginning and end of March, where we will be moving from 7,000 MW to lower levels of between 5,000 MW and 6,000 MW, where you are going to see significantly improved intensity of load shedding,” said Ramokgopa.