In the face of mounting criminal actions against South Africa’s state-owned power utility, Eskom, the Electricity Minister, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, has made a significant announcement. Out of nearly 2,000 reported cases, a special investigative team has arrested 126 individuals.
Eskom’s Criminal Crisis
Eskom has found itself the target of multiple criminal cartels, triggering calls from political parties for a deeper investigation into the entities behind these nefarious activities. One minister went so far as to refer to Eskom as a veritable “crime scene.”
Law Enforcement Efforts
Ramokgopa disclosed that the Energy Safety and Security Priority Committee was formed to combat Eskom-related crimes, a task involving the broader security cluster. Law enforcement has informed the standing committee on public accounts, Parliament’s finance watchdog, about various syndicates operating within Eskom’s power stations.
Statistics of Reported Crimes and Arrests
In spite of the 126 arrests made since the previous year, a startling number of cases have been reported during this period – over 1,952. Ramokgopa highlighted the role of the Energy Safety and Security Priority Committee in addressing this rising tide of crime.
He stated, “An Energy Safety and Security Priority Committee was established to address Eskom-related crime on an inter-departmental, multi-disciplinary basis to address the objectives of Work Stream Six of the National Energy Crisis Committee (Necom). A total of 1,952 Eskom-related cases were reported to the SA Police Service between 1 April 2022 and 29 May 2023, with 1,405 cases still under investigation, and 126 arrests have been made.”
Despite the staggering number of pending cases, Ramokgopa expressed optimism about the interventions’ impact on criminal activities. “Whilst much remains, these interventions are beginning to turn the situation around, and there are indications that operational measures implemented have clearly disrupted the activities of criminal syndicates.”
In a media briefing, Ramokgopa also mentioned that a senior official in the police and the State Security Agency was looking into the crimes committed at Eskom, possibly addressing issues related to a senior Eskom executive implicated in sabotage conspiracies with syndicates. He noted that progress has been made in this regard.