Cable theft and vandalism of water infrastructure on production boreholes in Peacetown (ward 15) and Watersmeet (ward16 and 18) resulted in a major interruptions on water distributions/ supply in most areas within the Driefontein Block. Upon routine inspections in Driefontein Block in the early hours of Saturday morning, it was discovered that the newly refurbished water pump and electric components and pumps have once again been vandalised and burnt. As a result the areas such as Peacetown and Watersmeet were severely affected.
This unfortunate incident happened just after water supply had been stabilized in these areas. The incident prompted the leadership of uThukela District Municipality which comprised of the Mayor Cllr AS Mazibuko, Deputy Mayor Cllr NW Sibiya and Chief Whip Cllr S Dlungwane including officials to host a series of sectional community meetings in the affected areas on Sunday informing the people about this act of senseless sabotage.
This is a deliberate disregard for the rights of others which amounts to an act of sabotage and is equivalent to treason and must be condemned with strongest terms possible. As we all are aware that water is a basic human right, this senseless act of vandalism on water infrastructure is barbaric, selfish and infringes the right of citizens. We must come together as members of the society and expose these saboteurs so that we can make sure they face the full might of the law, said Mayor Mazibuko.
Theft and vandalism of infrastructure has become a major emerging challenge that UThukela District Municipality is battling to contain. Water networks and production boreholes are operated by electricity. Therefore, if there is an electrical fault or damage to electrical infrastructure, this has an impact on water supply in the area where the fault occurred. Noting that even if the damage on infrastructure has been repaired, the reservoirs are taking a long time to fill up.
Over the past four weeks upon the daily routine inspections undertaken on production boreholes on the above mentioned areas, the pumps were discovered as being tempered with all the pumps supplying the three wards within the Driefontein Block were reversed or manipulated to not pump water to relevant areas by unknown personnel. The District Municipality has however managed to resolve the problem and water was restored within two days.
The infrastructure (in the form of buildings) to secure the pumps and electric panels was also damaged. The estimated cost to repair the damage and to replace the stolen infrastructure amounted to R 2.3 million. The cost include upgrading the security of the infrastructure. The theft and vandalism of infrastructure has since been reported to the South African Police Services (Case has been opened). It was also reported to CoGTA and the Office of the Premier.
Detailed assessments on the vandalised infrastructure has been undertaken. UThukela District Municipality is in progress of sourcing materials required for repairs and internal teams in progress on re- instating water supply on the affected areas. We have confidence in law enforcement agencies supported by the community will work around the clock to bring these saboteurs to book. During our community engagements, members of the community were also urged to come forward with any information that could assist in finding those who are responsible for this heinous act.