Maritzburg mayor accuses rogue elements of sabotaging power supply

2017-06-27 20:26
Themba Njilo (File, The Witness)

Themba Njilo (File, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - Msunduzi Municipality’s top brass have accused rogue elements within its workforce of carrying out a string of sabotage activities that resulted in power cuts in many parts of the KwaZulu-Natal capital.

In a press briefing, Msunduzi Mayor Themba Njilo conceded that the past two weeks had seen some of the worst interruptions in the provision of electricity and water in living memory, and that this had put communities under pressure.

Areas such as Sweetwaters, Hilton, Imbali Township and other parts of the CBD had been affected by such disruptions. This had got residents up in arms, leading to service delivery protests. In Imbali Township, angry residents blocked the key entry points and partially burned a municipal office, prompting police intervention. 

"These interruptions are believed to be acts of sabotage and, while the reason for them is as yet unknown to the municipality, we have enlisted the services of the law enforcement agencies to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice," said Njilo.

He said, while the municipality enjoyed good relations with its workforce, there were some individuals who wanted to cause havoc at the municipality.

"What we have seen at Msunduzi has amounted to treason, whereby a democratically elected local government was being undermined by wilful individuals, while entire communities and businesses were held hostage.

"There are important leads being followed in this regard and arrests are imminent," the mayor added.  

The workers are said to have carried out a string of operations, including: 
•         Petrol bombing of a power substation;
•         Stealing cables, leading to more power supply problems; 
•         Damaging water pipes that led to some areas experiencing water shortages. 

There had also been incidents where private contractors, who were employed to fix the power problems, were attacked and intimidated.

He admitted that conducting repairs was a costly exercise, but stressed that it was absolutely necessary to ensure that the supply of electricity and water – on which electrical blackouts have had a knock-on effect since water pumps are operated by electricity – reached every community within Msunduzi.

"As we do this, we also express our unreserved apology to all residents within Msunduzi. We apologise sincerely for all the inconvenience experienced by private individuals, businesses and institutions." 

Deputy city manager Ray Ngcobo dismissed suggestions that the conduct of a few workers meant the municipality was in crisis.

"Our municipality is in a good state in terms of its relations with employees. We are a financially sound establishment and prophets of doom can say whatever they want," said Ngcobo.

While the costs of the damage to infrastructure have not yet been determined, it is believed to run into millions of rands.   





Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  service delivery

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