Sakeliga sends letter of demand to Eskom to stop illegal load reduction 


Sakeliga yesterday sent a letter of demand to Eskom to stop the application of illegal load reduction, i.e. targeted power cuts. Sakeliga is working together with Agri North-West and TLU SA to stop the illegal implementation of load reduction in the interest of affected members of the three organizations in North-West and Limpopo. The affected members are mostly farmers and small businesses in rural areas. 

Illegal load reduction, which must be distinguished from the national load shedding program, is a recent practice whereby Eskom completely curbs electricity supply on targeted feeding lines for hours at a time. The reason for this is allegedly to avoid overloading the network in high-density areas, where there are many illegal connections, and causing damage to network infrastructure. 

Although the Electricity Regulation Act provides for a form of load reduction, this may never entail a complete cessation of electricity supply, but only an appropriate reduction in load. Users must also be informed reasonably in advance. Eskom is acting illegally by completely curbing electricity supply on targeted lines and in many cases not providing notice in advance. 

Sakeliga, Agri North-West and TLU SA also note that it is often agricultural farms and smaller organisations, which do not fall within high-density areas, that are subjected to continuous electricity supply interruptions. In addition, Eskom has been claiming for months that load reduction is an interim measure while an audit is carried out on identified supply lines so that network losses can be reduced to an acceptable level. However, it appears that the intended audits are not carried out as previously agreed with the affected persons, and that Eskom does not plan to stop load reduction anytime soon. 

Sakeliga believes that Eskom is trying to follow the path of least resistance by subjecting paying end-users to electricity interruptions under the guise of load reduction, rather than actually eliminating illegal connections to supply lines. In doing so, Eskom hinders the ability of its direct and paying end-users – especially agricultural farms – to operate their businesses. In addition, unplanned power outages cause irreparable damage to production equipment, and owners struggle to maintain security measures on their premises in already unsafe areas.  

Eskom’s actions in this regard are unacceptable, as well as illegal, and must be tested against recognized legal principles. Sakeliga successfully took legal action against Eskom in the recent past, precisely because of the unfounded prejudice caused to paying end users. * It may now again be necessary again to initiate legal action against Eskom. 

We therefore demand in yesterday’s letter that Eskom undertakes in writing within 10 days to complete all proposed audits on identified supply lines within three months. Eskom must also undertake within ten days that illegal electricity cuts will be ceased immediately and that pending the completion of the audits, load reduction will only be implemented in accordance with legal prescripts. In particular, load reduction may never entail an actual cessation of electricity supply. 

In the absence of according undertakings from Eskom, Sakeliga will approach the High Court in Pretoria for appropriate remedies. 

Businesses and individuals experiencing load reduction are encouraged to provide their details here

*Namely, in 2018 in Musina where Eskom wanted to stop electricity supply to, among others, paying end users due to a dispute between Eskom and the municipality over an escalating debt account. In the subsequent and separate Resilient case in the Supreme Court of Appeal, Sakeliga made submissions as friend of the court that neither Eskom nor any other state institution may prejudice end users due to a dispute between organs of state. The court agreed with Sakeliga’s arguments, and ruled accordingly. 

Issued by: 

Tian Alberts 

Legal and Liaison Officer,