Police and intelligence officers will be sent to Eskom power stations to protect them from being sabotaged, according to a report by the Sunday Times.
The protection is aimed at preventing those “linked to state capture” from causing damage to Eskom’s infrastructure.
The move follows Eskom implementing stage 4 load-shedding on 11 February after seven generating units tripped within a period of five hours.
The report states that “suspicion is mounting” this crisis was deliberately created. Its aim was to “undermine President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plans to change Eskom’s structure and business model”.
Ramaphosa wants to separate Eskom into three units, in a bid to improve operations.
Workers’ unions are heavily opposed to this – citing potential job losses – and held a nationwide strike earlier this week to protest the planned move.
Eskom added at the time that the Medupi and Kusile power stations are continuing to show a lack of reliability and were not contributing meaningfully to the grid, only making matters worse for the company.
The report stated that the security agencies involved will detect “malicious attacks” and protect power stations, as there is a potential threat posed by disgruntled workers or influential industry players and politicians implicated in state capture.
“A senior government source said they were detecting a well-infiltrated, well-organised and well-resourced fightback against the Ramaphosa administration with antennae that reach all over,” stated the report.
Another source stated the government wants to treat Eskom power stations as national key points in order to protect them from damage.
It is not only Eskom power stations which are at risk, however.
Load-shedding has been described as a “blessing” for cable thieves, who are able to work during the blackouts without fear of electrocution.
Theft of copper cables is high during load-shedding, and thieves are using load-shedding schedules to plan their cable theft.
This compounds problems for businesses and citizens when the power comes back on, as the cabling must be replaced – which takes time.
Apart from the inconvenience to South Africans that load-shedding and cable theft cause, there are much bigger implications for South Africa.
Energy expert Chris Yelland said load-shedding costs the country around R2 billion per day.
With an already struggling economy the country cannot afford problems with its electricity supply, which is the backbone of any modern society, he said.