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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

Suspected coal thief arrested at Eskom’s Arnot Power Station

Eskom said the delivery of poor-quality coal often leads to unit breakdowns and cannot be tolerated.

A suspected coal thief has been arrested at Eskom’s Arnot Power Station in Mpumalanga.

It is understood the man was handcuffed on Saturday.

Eskom said its security investigations team spotted a truck that was loaded with coal to be delivered at an Eskom power station entering a coal yard in Middelburg, Mpumalanga.

The power utility said the truck left the coal yard after about an hour and the officials followed it en-route to Arnot Power Station.

Coal thief

“On arrival at Arnot Power Station, the truck joined the queue to offload coal. The Eskom Group Security Investigations team checked and discovered that the coal due to be offloaded was indeed discarded coal containing stones which confirmed the suspected coal swapping witnessed earlier at the Middleburg coal yard.

“The driver of the truck was questioned and he confessed that he had sold the coal that was earlier loaded at a mine in eMakhazeni (formerly Belfast) and which was destined for Arnot Power Station for R6 000,” Eskom said.

It added that the driver was immediately arrested by the Hawks who are also currently busy with further criminal investigations supported by Eskom’s Group Security Investigations.

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Poor coal

Botse Sikhwitshi, acting general manager for security at Eskom has applauded the arrest.

“There is tangible evidence to ensure successful prosecution of the suspect. The delivery of poor-quality coal often leads to unit breakdowns and cannot be tolerated. We hope the perpetrator, once convicted, faces the harshest possible sentence which shall serve as a deterrent to others.”

Eskom said it will continue to work with law enforcement agencies to ensure that illegal coal yards are shut down.

Meanwhile, as of Sunday, Eskom’s load shedding suspension had lasted around 74 days, the longest break in the rolling blackouts  since mid-2021.

Eskom attributed the improvement to the Generation Operational Recovery Plan’s increased planned maintenance during the summer months of 2023/24.

ALSO READ: Ramaphosa warns risk of load shedding remains despite gains

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