Load-Shedding Damages Claim for Business Goes Ahead Against Eskom

Law firm De Beer Attorneys said on Monday that more than 400 local organisations, enterprises and small businesses had joined a class action lawsuit against Eskom.

The law firm said it was now preparing a damages claim for individual businesses who suffered losses during load-shedding in 2019.

In April, the law firm announced that it would take legal against the embattled state entity.

In response, Eskom released a statement saying the law firm had little ground to stand on.

Eskom said it relied largely on the National Code of Practice for Emergency Load Reduction and System Restoration Practices of 2010 as the reason why the parastatal could not be sued for load-shedding.

Nevertheless, the law firm believes there is a firm basis for a claim.

“Given recent revelations during the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture, it seems that several key office bearers at Eskom have been involved in corrupt activities at the parastatal in the past.

“De Beer Attorneys believe that a legal duty exists on the part of the responsible directors themselves, to recoup at least some of the losses that local businesses have suffered,” it said in a statement.

Senior associate at the firm Abduraouph Kamaar said it seemed that that a number of officials at Eskom had engaged in corrupt activities in the past and that “this pattern of conduct has resulted in Eskom being unable to meet South Africa’s electricity demand”.

“On this basis, a damages claim for individual businesses that have suffered financial loss as a result of load-shedding may still lie against these responsible directors,” he said.

Kamaar said they had received massive backing from local organisations.

He said the load-shedding problem at Eskom was expected to continue for the next few years.

“South African businesses are dependent upon a stable electricity supply and are entitled to compensation for at least some of the losses they have suffered. If not from Eskom, then from the directors themselves whose questionable conduct has resulted in these losses.

“They are fed up with corruption and having their livelihoods compromised as a result of malfeasance.”

Kamaar urged more businesses to come forward.