When someone tells you that load shedding is imminent, it’s not exactly difficult to believe them. Eskom throw power cuts out like they come ten-a-penny. But it’s in this climate that fake news can thrive, and unfortunately, the power utility has been stung.
A voice-note was circulated on Thursday morning, alleging that a new wave of protest action had resulted in their staff preventing other workers from manning the plants. In turn, it was suggested that this would contribute to huge loss of power and cause load shedding over the Easter weekend:
Got a WhatsApp voice message this morning at 06:31 dated 20190418 stating that Eskom outages #Loadshedding is on the table again, possibly even as from tonight, due to protests. However, I cannot find any confirmation on Twitter or Google. Please comment if you have any info. pic.twitter.com/F3E5HlNEp3
— JG (Johan) van Zyl ✍ (@JGvanZyl_ZA) April 18, 2019
Will we get load shedding over Easter?
However, Eskom have moved to pour cold water on these suggestions. They issued a statement on Thursday afternoon dismissing the claims as a hoax and reassured the public that power stations are “running as normal”.
“Eskom is aware of WhatsApp messages doing the rounds, which provide false information and create unnecessary panic and confusion. The messages allege that Eskom staff are being prevented from entering Eskom power stations and that we are unable to keep generational units running”
“Please note that these messages are hoaxes and should be ignored. We assure the public that power stations are running as normal.”
Eskom’s winter forecast
The pressure is on Eskom this winter. Pravin Gordhan and his task team are in charge of resuscitating the failing SOE and made it clear at the start of April that there would be a “minimum risk” of load shedding between now and the end of August. His assurance lasted barely a week before Stage 1 warnings were back in force.
Since then, the grid has stabilised. Given their reputation and the way social media works, hoaxes about load shedding are quite common. They made headlines again last month, so we put together a guide on spotting the fake news when it comes to our electricity. After all, it’s important we all stay switched on.
- You can read Eskom’s full statement here:
18 April 2019
Eskom advises the public to ignore fake messages circulating on social media platforms @hoevelder @WITBANK_NEWS @PolokwaneObserv @Sandton_News @RandburgSun @HighwayMail @Dispatch_DD @dailymaverick pic.twitter.com/A22iORzWIY
— Eskom Hld SOC Ltd (@Eskom_SA) April 18, 2019