Over 100 network towers vandalised as looting, arson disrupt service

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Icasa says communications infrastructure has been vandalised. iStock
Icasa says communications infrastructure has been vandalised. iStock
  • The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa has received reports of the vandalism of communications infrastructure.
  • About 113 network towers in some parts of the country have also been affected.
  • The authority said that the vandalism is a direct attack on constitutional rights and poses mortality risks.

Communications infrastructure has been targeted in unrest taking place in parts of South Africa.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has received reports of the vandalism of communications infrastructure - this includes 113 network towers as well as community radio stations Alex FM, Ntokozo FM, Mams FM and Westside FM, among others, which have been damaged or looted.

According to Icasa, the violence, looting and arson in the country had resulted in the disruption of communication services and the closure of community radio stations. 

"Such wanton destruction of the broadcasting infrastructure and facilities represents a direct attack on the constitutional right of individuals and communities to access news and information that is accurate, unbiased and up-to-date about the current crisis," the statement read.

Icasa chairperson Dr Keabetswe Modimoeng, warned that disruptions to communication services could potentially raise mortality risks. "Any disruption of communication services could prove disastrous and result in increased mortality as emergency calls may be directly impacted," said Modimoeng.

Modimoeng called on communities to assist in guarding and protecting critical infrastructure. Icasa has also written to the National Joints Operations and Intelligence Services to prioritise the safeguarding and protection of "critical" telecommunications infrastructure.

Citing a judgment last year, Icasa noted that vandalism and theft of telecommunications infrastructure is treasonous.

The unrest has resulted in damage to retail shopping centres, warehouses, factories and caused road blockages.

Several businesses including Standard Bank, FNB, Massmart and Vodacom have closed some stores and branches as safety precautions.

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