Damage at the Koeberg nuclear power plant, Africa's only nuclear power station in Cape Town, South Africa, in December was not accidental but deliberate, the country's Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin said on Tuesday.
The damage to one of the generators at Koeberg, reportedly caused by a bolt, has brought about frequent shutdown of the power plant and outages of electricity in the Western Cape Province since December, causing huge economic losses.
"Let me be very clear on this. The bolt that caused the generator's destruction did not get there by accident," Erwin was quoted as saying by the SAPA news agency.
Erwin said the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the police were investigating.
"The investigation is ongoing and we will bring criminal charges against individuals soon," Erwin said.
South Africa will on Wednesday hold the nationwide municipal elections. But Cape Town is to experience severe electricity interruptions on the election day, which forced the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in the Western Cape to plan for election under circumstance that there is no power available in the province.
Minister of Minerals and Energy Lindiwe Hendricks also indicated that the damage of the power plant was aiming at the election on Wednesday.
"These events curiously coincide with an important process in the democratic calendar of the country.. It has become clear that the recent event cannot just be linked inadequate transmission or generation capacity. Clearly other forces are at play here," she was quoted as saying.
Erwin said negotiations were being concluded with French electricity supplier EDF for parts to fix the broken generator.
On Tuesday morning, Koeberg's remaining generator shut down automatically when a high-voltage line tripped.
It would take some time to bring the generator back up to full capacity, according to Eskom, South Africa's state-owned power supplier which operates the Koeberg power plant.