“The truck belongs to a transporter contracted to deliver coal to Eskom,” the state-owned power utility said.
This comes after other truck drivers were arrested at the same power station in Mpumalanga while in possession of stolen coal, two weeks ago.
“While the truck left the mine with the correct specification of coal, the swapping with the inferior quality coal occurred at a known illegal coal yard in the area before the delivery was made at the Camden Power Station,” Eskom explained.
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 driver was arrested, and a criminal case with various charges was opened with the South African Police Services (Saps) in Ermelo.
Also, the truck and trailer were impounded, Eskom said, adding that more arrests are expected.
According to the utility, the Bidvest Protea Coin Tactical Task Team, 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 driver further alleged that an employee of the mine instructed him to proceed to the illegal coal yard in Middelburg and offload the coal before proceeding to Camden Power Station.”
It is believed that the driver was further directed by the said mine employee to deliver the sub-standard obtained coal from the illegal coal yard to Eskom.
The trailer was sealed at the illegal coal stockyard using the issued seals after the sub-grade coal was loaded and the driver proceeded to the power station to deliver the coal.
“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,” said general manager for security at Eskom, Advocate Karen Pillay.
In addition, a Bidvest Protea Coin investigator is said to have been offered a R50,000 bribe for the release of the driver, which was declined.
Eskom said stockpiles of coal 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. The seals are to remain intact until the truck reaches the Eskom power station where it is again inspected for tampering before the coal is off-loaded.”
However, Eskom said it has discovered that the processes are deliberately bypassed by some criminal elements in the mines, transporters and Eskom alike.
“The replacement of quality coal with discarded coal has a serious negative impact on the plants and production at the power stations.”
In addition, Eskom defined coal theft as a highly organised criminal activity where syndicates are enriched through the proceeds derived from the trade in stolen coal.
Eskom has urged the public to report information regarding the theft of coal, fuel oil and diesel to the Eskom Crime Line: 0800112722.
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