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By Citizen Reporter


Mineworkers trapped underground after vandalism of Eskom power lines

The mineworkers were unable to resurface after the collapse of power lines that were tampered with by suspected criminals.

Eskom has dispatched a team of technicians to Sibanye Gold Mine in Randfontein, west of Gauteng, after a group of miners were trapped underground due to the theft and vandalism of the power utility’s electricity infrastructure.

Mine workers trapped underground

Eskom Gauteng spokesperson Amanda Qithi says the mineworkers were unable to resurface after the collapse of power lines that were tampered with by suspected criminals.

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“The miners, who were trapped in the mine after the collapse of power lines, were safely evacuated when supply was restored on Monday, 20 February 2023,” she said in a statement on Wednesday.

She added: “Cooke shaft 1/Cooke, Cooke shaft 3/Kagiso and Panvlakte/Cooke reduction’s 132 kV lines fell during the storm as the integrity of the pylons along these lines was compromised. The pylon structures were weakened by the theft of the tower members and the unstable ground caused by digging around the foundation”.

Collapse of pylons

Qithi said production in the gold-extracting mine came to a grinding halt while Eskom worked to restore supply at significant costs.

She said the theft of tower members leads to the instability and collapse of the pylons that carry high-voltage power lines, which then pose a serious safety risk to members of the public.

“This criminal practice has an additionally devastating impact on the economy and on Eskom’s ability to sustain the provision of electricity. The power utility spends a fortune on the replacement of stolen pylon parts and other network equipment.”

Qithi added that the power supply was restored to some of the mine shafts, and Eskom technicians were still on site working to energise Cooke shaft 3/Kagiso.

Mashangu Xivambu, Eskom’s provincial maintenance and operations senior manager, said the utility recently reported that vandalism and theft had extended to pylons. The pylon’s tower members are often stolen by criminals, resulting in the steel structures collapsing.

“It is disturbing that this incident happens a week after we raised a concern about incidents of theft and vandalism of pylons,” said Xivambu.

Xivambu appealed to the public to work with Eskom by reporting illegal connections, theft, and vandalism of electricity infrastructure to the Eskom crime line number: 0800 112 722.

Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe

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