Two security guards contracted by Eskom to escort Western Cape technicians into high-risk areas were callously gunned down on Monday afternoon.
Spokesperson for the national power utility, Sikonathi Mantshantsha, confirmed the incident and further explained that the two guards were employed by Vusalsizwe Security. The security guards were contracted to provide armed escorts to Eskom technicians who were required to work in areas well-known for robberies and violence.
Philippi East, on the outskirts of Cape Town, is regarded as a highly volatile area, with reports of gang violence and murders a daily occurrence. In 2019, Police Minister Bheki Cele visited the area following a vicious spate of violence which left 11 people dead in 24-hours.
Gunned down following electrical repairs
According to Alwie Lester, the General Manager for Eskom Distribution in the Western Cape, technicians were dispatched to Philippi East following complaints of an electricity supply fault. Preliminary investigations note that the technicians had completed their repairs at around 16:00 on Thursday afternoon and proceeded to leave the area.
It was at this moment that the security contingent was fired upon by unknown assailants. While the Eskom technicians managed to flee to safety, both security guards were fatally wounded by the gunfire and succumbed to their injuries on the scene.
Lester passed his sincere condolences to the family and friends of the guards who had been gunned down but was thankful that the Eskom technicians were able to escape physically unscathed. Lester said:
“I am grateful that our employees were not physically harmed in this attack and they will receive the necessary counselling and support that such a trauma has undoubtedly caused. We will offer the same support to Vusalsizwe Security.”
Lester added that the South African Police Service (SAPS) was actively investigating the killings.
Eskom technicians subjected to violence and harassment
In 2019, Eskom employees working in Gauteng were subject to intimidation, violence and — in some instances — were even held hostage by angry community members. Incidents were reported in Soweto, Ivory Park, Orange Farm and Winterveldt. These attacks, which generally targeted Eskom technicians tasked with eradicating illegal connections, prompted a heavier security response and even police escorts.
Eskom’s Operations and Maintenance Manager, Motlhabane Ramashi, condemned the frequent intimidation and harassment of Eskom employees, saying:
“The safety of Eskom employees remains a concern, and cases have been reported to the law enforcement agencies for further investigation.”
At the height of the unrest, Eskom refused to dispatch technicians to high-risk areas.