Eskom employee, contractor arrested in R335 000 cable theft case

Last year, a large cable was stolen from an Eskom facility in Pretoria and so far two people have been arrested.

 Photo for illustration. Image: SAPS

A 43-year-old Eskom staffer and a contractor have been arrested for alleged theft of cables worth R335 000 in east of Pretoria.

Police spokesperson Sergeant Yeroboam Mbatsane said the investigations into the cable theft case opened in March last year led to the manager following a tip-off.

He said an owner of a private company contracted to Eskom tipped-off the police to a suspicious cable sale.

Mbatsane said the sale set up by a 35-year-old project manager working as a contractor had turned sour when “the buyer refused to pay after seeing [that] the cable belonged to Eskom”.

He said the police traced the potential seller to Germiston and recovered the cable last year.

“The project manager was arrested but the investigations for the arrest of all involved in the crime continued,” said Mbatsane adding that the project manager allegedly drove the cable out of the facility having colluded with the employee.

“Further investigation by the prosecution team uncovered WhatsApp evidence in which the project manager and the employee discuss the cable theft and sale.”

He said the Boschkop police arrested the employee on Monday.

He said the police believe the employee signed the cable out of the facility under the pretence that it would be used in a project while it was in actual fact being stolen.

“The two suspects are expected to appear at the Pretoria magistrate’s court on Tuesday,” Mbatsane said.

The power utility has over the past years had problems with infrastructure theft.

Eskom head of security Advocate Karen Pillay previously said various state-owned companies, Eskom, TransnetPrasa and Telkom combined lost more than R7-billion a year to cable theft.

“Cable theft continuously affects business operations and hampers the provision of basic essential services to industry and to communities,” Pillay had said.

“This exacerbates localised power cuts and the implementation of load-shedding.”

Speaking about problems at Eskom following weeks of regular load-shedding, President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a televised address that theft was one of the factors crippling Eskom.

“Last weekend, I visited the Tutuka power station in Mpumalanga, whose performance has been badly affected by criminal activities,” Ramaphosa said.

“We heard of maintenance spare [parts] being stolen and sold back to Tutuka and other power stations.

“We were told of ongoing theft of oil on a massive scale and the deliberate damaging of equipment so that Eskom should hire equipment from private contractors.

“What is happening at Tutuka and other power stations is deliberate sabotage by well organised criminal syndicates that are destroying the utility and damaging our economy.”

Ramaphosa said however law enforcement agencies were making progress tackling the theft and fraud at Eskom power stations.

Mbatsane encouraged residents to report any suspicious activity on the power line to Eskom on 0800 11 27 22 or Crime Stop on 086 00 10111.

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