Battle stations

2011-08-25 00:00

MSUNDUZI Municipality beefed up security at electricity sub- stations and other facilities as the municipal strike entered its 10th day yesterday.

But municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma stressed that this is not because there is any evidence of sabotage. He said it is a precautionary measure to guard council property and to give residents peace of mind.

He added that there is a strong perception that the number of water cuts and electricity outages during this period were caused by the strikers.

Security guards have been posted at key installations.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Joey Jeevan confirmed that members of the crime prevention unit are conducting patrols.

Municipal insiders said that it is all very well to guard the big sub-stations, but there are over a thousand mini sub-stations throughout the city where sabotage can be carried out.

Similarly, there are hundreds of water valves that can be shut off.

They said the cut-offs could be blamed on the strikers or on the contractors, who make a lot of money at this time.

However, the insiders believe that proving sabotage is difficult unless the saboteurs are caught red-handed.

Msunduzi is not the only municipality affected. Two days into the strike the Merrivale industrial park had no water.

Investigations revealed that several valves in the Prospect Road area of Howick were closed.

Mick McConnell, a businessman, said that anybody has access to these valves if they know where they are situated. However, one apparently needs a special key to open and close them.

He has written to the uMgungundlovu District Municipality, which is in charge of supplying water to the area, and has asked for an investigation to ascertain who could gain possession of the keys to shut off the water.

The KwaZuluNatal chairperson of the South African Municipal Workers’ Union, John Dlamini, said he condemns any acts of sabotage and that it is an insult to union members that they are blamed.

“Our members are mothers and fathers and live in the community. Why would they inconvenience themselves and other families, why must it be assumed that we have no dignity?” he asked.

Meanwhile, power outages continued in the city last night, affecting Montrose and Wembley.

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