What do the Guptas have to do with load shedding? It turns out to be a big deal, actually

From left: Atul Gupta. (Photo: Gallo Images / Financial Mail / Robert Tshabalala) | Tegeta’s Ronica Ragavan. (Photo: Gallo Images / Beeld / Felix Dlangamandla) | (Photo: Simon Dawson / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The reason the Guptas were stopped in their tracks was because of investigative journalism. This is why we need journalism.

The family from India that exerted extraordinary influence over the Cabinet during the presidency of Jacob Zuma had business interests in many sectors, and one of the main ones was mining.

The Guptas’ Tegeta coal mine in Brakfontein was improperly awarded a contract from Eskom in 2015. 

For three years, the Guptas’ mine supplied rubbish coal to Medupi Power Station, one of the country’s most important power sources.

The SA Bureau of Standards (SABS) tested 30 coal samples from the Tegeta mine. Twenty-nine of them failed the SABS standards. The SABS passed only one.

What does inferior coal do to our multibillion-rand power stations?

Read more in Daily Maverick: State of the Media

It damages power supply, badly. Stones in the coal break the conveyer belts. Poor-quality coal corrodes the power station boilers.

This isn’t the only reason we have load shedding. We know now that maintenance that should have been done on these power stations over years and years was not done. We know now that there have been many other acts of criminality and corruption at Eskom. But a piece of the puzzle of why we have load shedding today is what the Guptas did to Eskom.

And the reason we know about that now – the reason the Guptas were stopped in their tracks – was because of investigative journalism. 

It’s almost impossible to imagine how much worse off this country could have been without the publication of the GuptaLeaks exposés in 2017. Load shedding could have been much worse. Our power stations could have been beyond repair.

This is why we need journalism. DM

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