SA brings in the army to protect Eskom

By Rene Vollgraaff and Paul Vecchiatto

South Africa has started deploying its army at power stations as theft and vandalism adds to the inability of state-owned utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. to meet electricity demand.

Members of the South African National Defence Force were deployed at the Majuba, Camden, Grootvlei and Tutuka coal-fired plants in the eastern Mpumalanga province on Saturday afternoon, the utility’s media desk said in a WhatsApp message. 

The move follows a request to the minister of defense from the Presidency and the minister of public enterprises to respond “to the growing threat of sabotage, theft, vandalism and corruption at Eskom power stations,” Presidency spokesman Vincent Magwenya said by text message. A minimum of 10 soldiers will be assigned to each of the four plants and further deployments will be announced in due course, he said.

Eskom is currently removing 6,000 megawatts — a process known locally as load-shedding — from the grid, resulting in outages of as long four hours two or three times a day. It has implemented power cuts on 191 days of 2022. Supply has been constrained from its old and poorly maintained plants that continuously break down. 

–With assistance from Monique Vanek.

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.