Business association lays charges against water ‘saboteurs’

The Ermelo Business Association (EBA) has laid criminal charges against “saboteurs” who may want to prolong water shortages in the town.

EBA chairperson Athol Stark said electric poles were being deliberately cut to stop the supply of power to machines that pump water into the system.

The northern part of Ermelo and Wesselton township have been without water for about seven months after the Douglas and Brummer dams in the area went dry.

When it rains and there is water in the dams, it can be pumped into the system.

The Msukaligwa municipality has hired water trucks to transport water to the communities, but there are strong suspicions that people with interest in the business could be responsible for vandalising the power lines.

In the meantime, the water affairs department is busy constructing a water pipeline that will draw water from another dam.

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Leonard Hlathi confirmed the theft charge.

“The allegations are that electric poles are being stolen. We’re investigating, and no one has been arrested,” Hlathi said.

Said Stark: “The poles are vandalised deliberately. We’ve laid charges because this looks like sabotage.

“This municipality should be placed under administration as it is failing to provide services. When we complain they say we lie. This arrogance is unbelievable.”

Municipal spokesperson Mandla Zwane said anyone who had evidence must inform the police.

“In fact, municipal workers should be laying charges. I wonder why that’s not the case because they’re the ones who are the first to see these problems,” said Zwane.

The municipality is facing additional problems.

Recently, Eskom has threatened to cut off its power because it owes the power utility R65 million.

The Auditor-General’s 2011/12 report hit Msukaligwa with a disclaimer.

It found that R292 million could not be accounted for.

Auditor-General Terence Nombembe said in his report that auditors could not verify the existence of inventories, monies and the accuracy of financial statements because of the “limitations placed on the scope of my work by the municipality”.

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