Eskom spent R156 million on Sunday on 13 diesel generators to help keep the lights on while the battered coal-fired power stations stuttered and failed.
There’s clearly a vast amount of money being expended on the enormous diesel lake required by our power utility to plug the gaps. And therein is, apparently, a golden opportunity for thieves.
Thieves like the two Eskom employees arrested last week, along with a fuel supplier businessman. They were accused of stealing diesel fuel valued at R100 million a month from just one of Eskom’s power stations.
Apart from the amazing fact that the bail amount set for this outrageous alleged theft was just R5 000 for each of them, is the worrying fact they would have effectively stolen three fuel tankers a day in diesel.
That sort of theft is astounding – that it could physically take place and could happen, apparently, for quite some time without detection.
Energy expert Anton Eberhard pointed out that the parlous state of Eskom was because of state capture, whose “modus operandi was to destroy governance so thieves could move in”.
The corporation had nine CEOs in the nine years of the Zuma administration, said Eberhard, noting that others had failed to stabilise Eskom after that. He said he hoped CEO André de Ruyter would be give time to sort things out.
Fair enough. But, we ask, is it not time to declare an “Eskom state of emergency”, appoint an independent commission of inquiry (with untainted overseas experts) to get the truth and take remedial action?
Is it not also time to declare that crimes related to a strategic asset such as Eskom be declared acts of sabotage and terrorism and dealt with in the same harsh way?
Desperate times like these call for desperate measures.