18 June 2008 – South Africa’s public prosecutor has asked Eskom to provide details on the causes on the current electricity shortages. The public prosecutor will also consider whether measures were put in place to prevent the situation.

Lawrence Mushwana

Lawrence Mushwana,
South African public prosecutor

In a letter to Eskom CEO, Jacob Maroga, public prosecutor Lawrence Mushwana commented on the impact the lack of electricity was having on the daily lives of South Africans. Electricity cuts are affecting service delivery by government and severely impacting on private enterprise.

"We note with concern that the load-shedding is having a devastating effect on service delivery by government entities, is causing serious prejudice to the private sector and negatively affects the lives of many of the people of South Africa on a daily basis," he said in his letter.

In addition to information as to the causes of the crisis and steps taken to avert it, the public prosecutor is also likely to ask for Eskom’s plans to compensate those who have either suffered damage or inconvenience due to the load shedding. Additionally, the public prosecutor will want to know what has been done to ensure hospital, police stations and other emergency centres did not suffer.

The role of the public prosecutor is to investigate complaints from the public against government agencies or officials.

Public outcries about the electricity crisis have been increasing, with politicians, businesses and domestic consumers calling for clarification on the situation. The Democratic Alliance called the load shedding "a disaster for business".

Bonke Dumisa, CEO of the Durban chamber of commerce said the regular black outs were having an affect on all companies trading in the north of Durban.

"In the south there has been little disruption as this is the major industrial region which Eskom tries to avoid.

"The residential areas are scheduled for load shedding with the direct intent to minimise impacts on business but unfortunately the light commerce and retailing which fall within these areas are seriously affected," he said.

Says Hugh Acton, customer services manager for distribution company, DHL: "Orders are expected to go out the next day but we cannot get the information as it comes via the computer, so the cuts result in huge setbacks. All the staff were sitting around and I couldn’t get hold of a responsible person to let me know what was happening."