Eskom nails coal thieves

Two truck drivers on contract with Eskom were arrested at Kendal Power Station after they were found in possession of stolen coal.

The utility said the perpetrators were caught after being stopped by security personnel while attempting to exit via the power station’s coal gate.

Despite the drivers’ insistence that the trucks were empty, the security team proceeded to search the trucks, owned by an ash transportation company.

“With the persistence of a diligent security team the trucks were searched, and the stolen coal was found in the trailers,” Eskom said.

“The drivers were placed under arrest and a criminal case of theft of coal was registered with the Ogies South African Police Service.”

“These arrests are the result of persistent and excellent work by the Eskom Security Team, in partnership with the South African Police Service, who are working tirelessly to identify and disrupt the criminal networks,” Eskom added.

The utility’s general manager for security, Karen Pillay, said that coal theft was a highly organised criminal activity with syndicate involvement.

“Eskom continues to lose billions of rands due to the misappropriation of coal and similar commodities, which directly affects production,” said Pillay.

“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,” said Advocate Pillay.

Kendal power station, Eskom by Sunshine Seeds / Shutterstock.com

Sunday Times previously reported on how criminal syndicates were intercepting thousands of tonnes of Eskom coal and selling it at a hefty premium to international buyers.

A former operative who had worked at a “black site” around Middelburg in Mpumalanga told the publication high-quality coal was often stolen on the way from mines to power stations.

Once offloaded, it would be replaced with lower-grade quality coal or discarded by-products that were highly inefficient at generating heat and could damage generating units.

That has contributed to costly breakdowns that increased the likelihood of load-shedding.

The operative explained they would drive a bakkie in front of a designated truck and use a signal jammer to block the truck’s tracker so transportation companies would not see the drivers’ deviate from their routers.

Once the truck was back on the road with the replaced load, they would deactivate the jammer.

He told Sunday Times that the scale of the theft was enormous, with almost 2,000 tonnes of high-grade coal being dropped off on one night, equivalent to 65 truckloads.

Now read: Goodbye Komati Power Station — Eskom shuts down oldest coal power plant after 61 years

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Eskom nails coal thieves