eThekwini Metro workers have not ruled out acts of sabotage after the Mobeni reservoir in Durban South was damaged.
It was earlier suggested by the municipality on Saturday that the reservoir was damaged by petrol bombs, allegedly in an attack believed to be linked to an ongoing strike by municipal workers.
Later, the municipality retracted its earlier statement and said its investigators have pointed out that it could be structural defects. But it couldn't rule out acts of sabotage that have been experienced since the beginning of the illegal strike.
"The depot where the damaged reservoir is situated, had several vehicles being damaged. The city is continuing with investigations," said the municipality.
In its earlier statement, municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the illicit act is suspected to have been carried out in the early hours of the morning. As a result, the city is losing millions of litres of clean water it spends millions of Rands to purify.
He said they suspected that petrol bombs were used but that the investigation would determine all the details.
City Manager Sipho Nzuza questioned the timing of the attack.
'Unfortunate and barbaric'
"This is very unfortunate and barbaric. We have strong suspicion that it is related to the illegal industrial action that is under way in our municipality. There is no amount of grievances that can justify this heinous crime," he said.
"This happens after we have communicated clearly to the aggrieved workers that we are taking the matter to the central bargaining council because we do not have any jurisdiction over it."
Nzuza urged all employees to return to work immediately as their absence was in violation of a court interdict.
The Metro revealed that the amount of damage to infrastructure as a result of the strike was almost R4 million, and growing.
"There is a possibility that the unions representing these workers could foot the bill. No one will be allowed to cause damage to our infrastructure and get away with it."
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu warned on Friday that workers who illegally used municipal vehicles and caused damages would be held accountable.
"Any unprotected strike opens you up to civil claim. We don't want a repeat of this thing. People cannot just wake up and embark on an illegal strike. There are laws that they are well aware of."
Mchunu revealed that authorities had made 31 arrests, with charges varying from attempted murder, public violence, road traffic infringements, illegal use of council vehicles and damage to business property.
The Metro said it was doing everything in its power to ensure that it restores the provision of basic services in the event of disruption.