Cape Town law firm De Beer Attorneys is encouraging South Africans to come forward with stories of financial losses caused by the recent spate of load shedding, as part of a planned class-action lawsuit against Eskom, due to the impact planned power outages have had on local businesses.
According to one of the firm’s managing directors, Elaine Bergenthuin, De Beer Attorneys plans to argue that the struggling power utility should be held accountable for losses suffered due to negligence.
“We have received a lot of interest and are calling people to come forward to strengthen the case,” Bergenthuin told IOL.
“A cookie company, for example, which makes 10,000 cookies a day, could prove that, as a result of load shedding, they were able to make 5,000 cookies. They could show a loss in profit.”
The law firm has already predicted what Eskom’s defence will be, saying they expect the utility to argue that rather than load shedding showing negligence, it was a responsible reaction to South Africa’s current energy crisis and a necessary step taken to prevent a national blackout.
The utility has also publicly stated that they are indemnified against the kind of losses they will be taken to task for in the law suit.
“No indemnity is granted by this policy against liability for: failure to supply arising out of any interruption of, variation, or fluctuation in the supply of electricity, which is not consequent upon damage to generation and/or transmission plant or equipment.”
Those interested in joining the class action lawsuit can email the law firm: firstname.lastname@example.org.
South Africa recently underwent an intense period of load shedding due to what the utility described as a lack of capacity.,
At a media briefing, Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan said Eskom’s woes stemmed largely from a lack of maintenance of the utility’s ageing infrastructure.
The Citizen reported in March that load shedding was causing massive damage to municipal infrastructure, leading to longer blackouts than scheduled.
Joburg Metro, which is the country’s biggest electricity user, is hit particularly hard, according to the member of the mayoral committee (MMC) for environment and infrastructure services, Nico de Jager.
He estimated the city of Joburg’s loss of revenue during load shedding at R210 million a day.
Over and above the revenue loss, the city is coughing up tens of thousands daily while repairing infrastructure damaged by the surges of electricity which passes through the system after every bout of load shedding. He said the extent of the damage could run into millions.