• Eskom has lost a little under R2 billion to crime in its last financial year.
  • That is up some 30% on the previous year.
  • Much of the losses were from electricity theft and stolen cables, but it also lost tens of millions to scams and sabotage.
  • For more stories, go to the Business Insider SA homepage.

In its last financial year an employee helped to scam it out of R28 million and an oil leak at a power station – believed to have been no accident – cost it at least R25 million Eskom said on Tuesday.

But those incidents were tiny in the greater scheme of things.

In total the utility believes it lost just under R2 billion to crime in its financial year to the end of March, a record figure up 30% from the closer to R1.5 billion it reported in 2018.

The vast majority of those losses, 88%, were from what the company classes as "non technical revenue losses" due to electricity meters being tampered with, power lines being tapped, and electricity stolen in a number of other ways.

See also: Eskom has referred scores of 'senior' employees to the Special Investigating Unit after lifestyle audits – and more than a hundred have left after ‘procurement breach’ investigations

Those revenue losses jumped by a quarter, year on year.

With the exception of fraud, the cost of other forms of crime increased by much larger margins.

Eskom said it had recorded 5,150 incidents where its cables or conductors had been stolen, at a total cost of R105 million – up 128% on the year before.

A basket of "other" crimes also increased by 128%, to R80 million.

Detected fraud, on the other hand, was up in value only some 4% to R51 million.

Such fraud included Eskom paying R28 million spread over 44 invoices that, it says, was not connected to any service it received. 

"Both the employee and the supplier have admitted to the scam," it said, and R3 million had already been recovered from the latter.

Eskom has classified an incident at its troubled Tutuka Power Station as one of the "other" crimes, after an oil leak caused "major damage".

"The leak is not seen as a technical failure and a case of malicious damage to property has been reported to the police," the company reported. "The matter is being investigated."

It did not provide other details or an exact estimate of damage, but labelled the incident as material, which puts it at a value of more than R25 million.

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