Eskom contractor at Camden power station arrested for sabotage

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A contractor linked to an incident of sabotage at Eskom’s Camden Power station was arrested on Tuesday, following investigations by the state power utility.

The worker was nabbed for intentionally removing the bearing oil drain plug from the bearing, last week, which caused the oil burners to trip repeatedly, Eskom said in a statement on Wednesday.

The worker was employed by a maintenance company contracted to the power station.

“This malicious act caused all the oil to drain out from the bearing, thus damaging the bearing which, in turn, prevented the mills from operating optimally. Camden Unit 4 subsequently tripped after losing all the mills,” it said.

A case was immediately opened at a police station in Ermelo following the incident, which took place on 10 November 2022.

“The evidence obtained, and the confession made by the perpetrator revealed the plug was intentionally removed to cause the trip. This act of sabotage would ensure that his employer is awarded additional maintenance and repair jobs at the power station,” Eskom said about its findings.

Investigative team

The power utility, which has been increasingly implementing load shedding, recently set up a special investigation team made up of the Eskom Security Team and the South African Police Services, to probe instances of potential sabotage and uncover criminal networks.

“It is disheartening to find that some of our contractors are unscrupulous, have malicious intent and are willing to plunge the country into further load shedding at a time when the electricity grid is highly constrained,” Advocate Karen Pillay, general manager for security at Eskom, said.

“We have always suspected that some of our maintenance contractors and employees are behind these acts of sabotage,” Pillay said.

“We shall continuously work with the law enforcement agencies to bring these insiders to book and ensure that justice is meted out, but most importantly that those with similar tendencies across Eskom are arrested and removed from the organisation.”

Other arrests

The latest arrest follows that of two contractor truck drivers last week, when they were caught in possession of stolen coal at Kendal Power Station.

“Coal theft is a highly organised criminal activity and syndicates involved are being enriched through the proceeds derived from the trade in stolen coal. Eskom continues to lose billions of rands due to the misappropriation of coal and similar commodities, which directly affects production,” said Pillay at the time.

“There are several illicit coal stockyards and dump sites in the province that are recipients of the stolen coal. Eskom will ensure that the perpetrators face the full might of the law.”

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