Eskom loses a court battle to stop US-based software giant Oracle from withdrawing its crucial services over a dispute relating to billions of rands owed by the power utility.

The Sunday World reported that South Africa is now at the mercy of Oracle to save it from plunging into darkness and keep the lights on.

Eskom failed to convince the Johannesburg High Court to stop Oracle from withdrawing its crucial services.

Oracle provides an online vending system that records 77 million transactions of electricity a month.

The embattled power utility also uses Oracle’s products and services for load monitoring of electricity generation by power stations.

Eskom also uses Maximo, a maintenance tool used for asset management and power outages,. logging of faults and control of electricity grids, which allows areas to be switched off.

Maximo also enables Eskom to distribute electricity in prepaid areas, collect revenue and detects and records faults in the distribution system.

“This would have catastrophic consequences for Eskom and countless members of the public and business. It would thus have a crippling effect on the economy, which is already under strain due to the COVID-19 global pandemic,” Eskom’s chief adviser: strategic IT  alliance, Tshifhiwa Ratshimbilani, argued in court papers seen by the Sunday World.

Eskom requires to contract with among others, services providers who can provide essential sophisticated IT, electronic and related products and services.

“Oracle is one such service provider and has for more than 20 years been providing different products and services that are quite essential to some of Eskom’s crucial operations,” reads the court papers.

Gaurav Bhatnagar, Oracle spokesperson, did not answer Sunday World’s questions on whether the company will follow through on its threats to withdraw its services, saying the court had dismissed Eskom’s urgent interdict application.

“Eskom should pay the pending dues for the Oracle software that they use.”

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