Eskom says the cyclone in Mozambique has contributed significantly to load shedding being escalated from stage 3 to stage 4 this afternoon.
Stage 4 load shedding kicked in at midday and was expected to last until about 11pm.
The power utility said the two lines that supply power from Cahora Bassa in Mozambique had gone offline as a result of the tropical cyclone.
Cahora Bassa exports 1,200 megawatts of electricity into the country’s power grid.
Eskom’s acting head of generation Andrew Etzinger said: “Our engineers are at this stage unable to get access to the site in Cahora Bassa to determine exactly the extent of the damage to lines which we understand have been affected by the cyclone in Mozambique.”
Etzinger said there was a high risk of load shedding until the middle of next week.
Eskom called on South Africans to use electricity sparingly as it worked to build up reserves.
WHAT STAGE 4 LOAD SHEDDING MEANS FOR YOU
Eskom will need to shed more than 4,000MW to keep the national grid from collapsing.
What this means is the state-owned power utility starts additional, unscheduled power cuts wherever it needs to and outside of its schedules.
This also means your area can be hit by blackouts at any time without any warning. The country hasn’t reached this stage since 2008.
Stage four will double the frequency of stage two, which means you will be scheduled for load shedding 12 times over a four-day period for two hours at a time, or 12 times over an eight-day period for four hours at a time.
Stage four load shedding is the final option for Eskom to prevent a national blackout.