Joburg total blackout will be sabotage - City Power

Cape Town – A union’s threat of causing a “total blackout” in the greater Johannesburg area this month would be an act of sabotage, City Power said on Thursday.

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) told the City of Johannesburg’s power utility that it would go on a full-blown strike on Monday October 19, resulting in “a total blackout of Johannesburg and all its suburbs”.

The union said City Power has failed to address issues relating to corruption levelled against its managing director, Sicelo Xulu.

It added that board chairperson Frank Chikane had “failed to act on corruption allegations, which are happening under his watch”.

Chikane in turn asked Samwu to provide concrete evidence to support its allegation.

Attack on a National Key Point

City Power said in a statement that Samwu’s threats of a total blackout “constitute an act of sabotage against the City of Johannesburg and its residents”.

It wouldn’t be the first time employees have brought darkness to the economic hub of South Africa.

Two years ago, City Power employees embarked on an illegal strike in which they disconnected electricity supply, resulting in some parts of Johannesburg being plunged into darkness.

The electricity infrastructure is a National Key Point installation and threats against its network, or deliberate and illegal tampering with its property, constitute an act that will be subject to criminal prosecution, City Power explained.

However, Samwu tweeted on Friday that City Power had misunderstood what it meant by "blackout".

"Maybe we should explain to ... Chikane what we mean," Samwu tweeted. "We will not be at work and as such blackout, how is that sabotage?"