Two truck drivers contracted to Eskom have been arrested trying to make off with two truckloads of coal at the Kendal Power Station.
Security guards stopped the drivers at the station’s coal gates on Wednesday night.
Eskom’s spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha said the truck drivers have insisted the trucks were empty.
“With the persistence of a diligent security team, the trucks were searched, and the stolen coal was found in the trailers,” said Mantshantsha.
The drivers have since been arrested, and a criminal case of theft of coal was registered with the Ogies South African Police Service under case number CAS 27/11/2022.
Coal theft – ‘highly organised criminal activity’
“Coal theft is a highly organised criminal activity, and syndicates involved are being enriched through the proceeds derived from the trade in stolen coal.
Eskom continues to lose billions of rand due to the misappropriation of coal and similar commodities, which directly affects production,” said Advocate Karen Pillay, general manager for security at Eskom.
An expose into coal theft by GroundUp in 2019, revealed how well-financed criminal gangs regularly fleece the South African coal industry.
Thousands of trucks deliver coal daily from the Mpumalanga coal mines to Eskom or the railway sidings for eventual delivery to the Richards Bay Coal Terminal for export.
The better-quality coal goes to the export markets, and the lower-quality coal goes to Eskom power stations.
The most common way of stealing coal relies on conniving between security guards and machine operators within the mines.
A 28-ton or 34-ton truck turns up at the coal mine, usually at night when the security presence is more low-key and is loaded with coal.
Then, with the help of company insiders, the truck bypasses the weighbridge, which is a crucial control element in all mines, where the weight and identity of the trucks are recorded.
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Report theft of state resources
“There are several illicit coal stockyards and dump sites in the province that are recipients of the stolen coal. Eskom will ensure that the perpetrators face the full might of the law,” explained Pillay.
Pillay said the arrests were a testament to a fruitful relationship between the Eskom Security Team and the South African Police Service.
“They are working tirelessly to identify and disrupt criminal networks. Eskom urges the public to report information regarding theft of coal, fuel oil and diesel, and all other criminal activities to the Eskom Crime Line: 0800 11 27 22,” concluded Pillay.
Compiled by Narissa Subramoney
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