Yet another arrest has been made at Eskom’s coal-fired Camden Power Station in Mpumalanga, the embattled state-owned electricity utility confirmed on Wednesday.
A coal delivery truck driver was arrested at Camden on Tuesday, after he was found to have swapped the correct specification of coal for sub-grade coal that was designated for Eskom.
The arrest comes after two other truck drivers were apprehended after they were found in possession of stolen coal two weeks ago at the same power station. It also follows the arrest of an internal contractor last week, after he was linked to an incident of sabotage at Camden.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Eskom says: “While the truck left the mine with the correct specification of coal, the swapping with inferior quality coal occurred at a known illegal coal yard in the area, prior to the delivery being made at the Camden Power Station.”
“During questioning, the truck driver admitted that he was allowed to exit the Wonderfontein Coal Mine by security, without the tarpaulins on the truck being sealed with the prescribed seals, and that the seals remained in his possession on exit.”
The power utility noted that the driver was arrested and a criminal case encompassing several charges was opened at the Ermelo Police Station.
“More arrests are expected,” it adds.
Eskom says the Bidvest Protea Coin tactical task team, contracted to investigate coal, diesel and fuel oil theft cases, detected the truck as it left the illegal coal yard in Middelburg. The team followed it to the Camden Power Station where it was stopped at the gate.
“The driver further alleged that an employee of the mine instructed him to proceed to the illegal coal yard in Middelburg and to offload the coal before proceeding to Camden Power Station,” adds the utility.
“He was further directed by the said mine employee to deliver the replaced coal product to Eskom, which was sub-standard obtained coal from the illegal coal yard.”
It says the trailer was then sealed at the illegal coal stock yard using the issued seals after the swap.
Eskom further pointed out that “in an interesting turn of events,” the investigator from Bidvest Protea Coin was offered a R50 000 bribe for the release of the driver, to which the investigator declined.
Moreover, the power utility says it has discovered that due diligence processes for the delivery of coal, including the inspection of coal trucks at the source and trailers, are deliberately bypassed by some criminal elements in the mines, transporters, and Eskom employees alike.
“The replacement of quality coal with discard coal has a serious negative impact on the plants and production at the power stations,” says Eskom.
“Coal theft is highly organised criminal activity and syndicates involved are being enriched through the proceeds derived from the trade in stolen coal.”
Eskom says it continues to lose billions of rands due to the misappropriation of coal and similar commodities which directly affects its production.
“The arrest of these unscrupulous individuals is a significant step in our fight against crime in Eskom, and we shall continue in our pursuit to ensure that the perpetrators face the full might of the law,” adds Eskom’s general manager for security, Advocate Karen Pillay.
Nondumiso Lehutso is a Moneyweb intern.