Many South Africans still haven’t returned to work from the holiday season, yet Eskom has already plunged the country back into darkness, casting chances of a recovery in the economy in 2020 into serious doubt.

The state-owned electricity monopoly said on Saturday evening that it will begin stage-2 rolling blackouts from 10pm.

It blamed an “unanticipated conveyor belt failure at Medupi power station” for the return to load shedding misery.

“While a number of units are being brought back online following repairs and maintenance, it is essential to implement stage-2 load shedding tonight from 10pm until 8am tomorrow (Sunday),” it said in a statement.

“This is to help us replenish both our water levels at pumped storage schemes and diesel in our open-cycle gas turbines to create adequate reserve capacity to place us in a better position to stabilise for the week ahead as South Africa returns to work,” it said.

Earlier on Saturday, Eskom said unplanned outages at its power stations had reached an unprecedented 16GW.

“Our teams continue to work tirelessly to return units back from planned and unplanned outages,” the utility said. “Owing to inadequate maintenance over a number of years, the system remains vulnerable to unplanned outages.”  — (c) 2020 NewsCentral Media