Eskom employees electrocuted while working on Kyalami network_1

In a series of unfortunate events, which include prolonged rolling blackouts and no sign of its end, Eskom also announced that two of their third-party employee contractors were electrocuted at the Kyalami electricity network on Thursday morning. 

In a statement issued on Thursday 6 February, the State-Owned Enterprise said that the two employees sustained serious injuries after coming into contact with electricity at a major residential construction site in the Kyalami area, north of Johannesburg whilst working on the network. 

“The two contractor employees who sustained injuries were subsequently air-lifted to the hospital where they are receiving medical treatment,” the statement read. 

Load shedding could be responsible for Eskom employees’ electrocution

Eskom said they suspect that the two employees proceeded with work on the network during a load shedding period. 

“The incident seems to have occurred when the power was restored after the scheduled load shedding. According to Eskom’s safety standards, it is a serious violation for any electrical work to be done during this period,” it said. 

Eskom’s senior manager of Maintenance and Operations Motlhabane Ramashi went on to say that the contractors in question “operated without their permission and unfortunately resulted in injuries that could have been avoided.” 

The matter has been referred to the relevant authorities for further investigation. 

“Eskom will cooperate fully in any investigation to ensure the matter is adequately dealt with. Eskom would like to caution members of the public to treat all electrical equipment and the network as live at all times, including during load shedding or any form of power supply interruption, for safety reasons,” it added. 

Load shedding to continue into the weekend 

After implementing load shedding for the best part of 60 hours since Monday 3 February, the utility confirmed that blackouts will now be in place until Friday 7 February – with a high probability of weekend outages too.

Throughout Thursday, Stage 2 cuts will come into effect from 9:00 and will only be lifted at 6:00 the next day. 

Here’s why load shedding could continue into next week. According to Eskom, there is an “unusually high” demand for electricity this week. More than 11 500 MW is already off the grid, and load shedding alerts usually start when that figure hits 9 500 MW. Eskom says that an additional and unforecasted 2000 MW of power is being drained from their reserves.

In addition, load shedding could be a regular occurrence over the next 18 months as units go offline to facilitate changes spearheaded by Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter.