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Picture: 123RF/ARTUR NYK
Picture: 123RF/ARTUR NYK

Two weeks after two truck drivers were arrested while in possession of stolen coal, another coal delivery truck driver was arrested at Camden power station on Tuesday after he was allegedly found in possession of subgrade coal destined for Eskom.

According to Eskom, the truck belongs to a transporter contracted to deliver coal to the power utility. 

Eskom said that 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 before the delivery was made to the Camden power station.

“The arrest of these unscrupulous individuals is a significant step in our fight against crime in Eskom, and we will continue in our pursuit to ensure the perpetrators face the full might of the law,” said advocate Karen Pillay, Eskom’s GM for security. 

The truck driver admitted during questioning 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 said the seals remained in his possession on exit.

“The driver was placed under arrest and a criminal case with different charges was opened with the police at Ermelo. The truck and trailer were impounded,” said Eskom. It said more arrests are expected.

The power utility said the Bidvest Protea Coin Tactical Task Team, which is contracted to Eskom to investigate coal, diesel and fuel oil theft cases, detected the truck as it left the illegal coal yard in Middelburg.

The team followed the truck to the Camden power station, where it was stopped at the gate. According to the power utility, the driver alleged an employee at the mine instructed him to proceed to the illegal coal yard in Middelburg and offload the coal before proceeding to Camden power station.

The driver said he was directed by the mine employee to deliver the replaced coal product to Eskom, which is substandard coal obtained from the illegal coal yard. Eskom said the trailer was sealed at the illegal coal stock yard after the subgrade coal was loaded.

“The persistent and excellent work by the Eskom security team, Bidvest Protea Coin Tactical Task Team, and the police service is an indication of our determination to root out criminal elements from Eskom,” said Pillay.

According to the power utility, the investigator from Bidvest Protea Coin was offered a R50,000 bribe for the release of the driver.

“The bribe was declined.”

“Stockpiles of coal destined for Eskom from the contracted mines are pre-tested and certified by both parties. It is required that the delivery coal trucks are inspected at source and the trailers are sealed on site for security purposes,” said the power utility.

Eskom said the seals were to remain intact until the truck reached the Eskom power station, where it would again be inspected.

However, Eskom said it had discovered that the processes were deliberately bypassed by criminal elements in the mines, transporters and Eskom.

The power utility said the replacement of quality coal with discard coal had a serious negative effect on the plants and production at power stations.

“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 due to the misappropriation of coal and similar commodities. There are several illicit coal stock yards and dump sites in the province that are recipients of the stolen coal,” Eskom said.

It would provide the required support to the police and National Prosecuting Authority to ensure the suspect/s were successfully prosecuted and a stiff sanction was meted out to deter other would-be offenders.


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