Councillors raise concern about sabotage of Durban municipal infrastructure, call for security to be beefed up

The Durban City Hall building. Councillors have raised concerns about security at key municipal infrastructure sites. File Picture: Khaya Ngwenya African News Agency (ANA)

The Durban City Hall building. Councillors have raised concerns about security at key municipal infrastructure sites. File Picture: Khaya Ngwenya African News Agency (ANA)

Published Sep 27, 2023

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Durban - Councillors in eThekwini Municipality are fearful about the poor security measures at the City’s key infrastructure sites and have called for water and electricity installations to be accorded a status similar to that of national key points.

Political parties said the city’s infrastructure was vulnerable to sabotage that could have a severe impact on residents.

They were speaking during the executive committee meeting yesterday. The warning came as areas north of Durban had to endure a water outage for several days. The metro said on Monday it was suspected that sabotage of its infrastructure was linked to the outage, but everything was on track to restore the supply.

ANC councillor Thembo Ntuli said they had previously called for the City infrastructure, especially the water and electricity infrastructure, to be accorded a status similar to that of the national key points.

He was part of the team of Exco councillors who visited the Durban North area to engage with the community on the water outage on Monday.

He said the visit highlighted the lack of security at infrastructure sites.

Ntuli said the City needed to quickly act on the council resolution to increase security at municipal assets.

He said the City should conduct a thorough investigation into allegations of sabotage of its infrastructure, saying the attacks could be by corrupt City employees or business people looking to create work.

Ntuli, who also chairs the Economic Development and Planning Committee, urged the eThekwini Water and Sanitation unit to fix the water infrastructure and ensure that this did not happen again.

ANC councillor Nkosenhle Madlala had expressed the same sentiments about the security of the infrastructure.

“We need to improve security around infrastructure. I am not just talking about a man with a knobkerrie,” said Madlala, saying he was referring to comprehensive security measures.

“Our infrastructure is not secure, there are some areas that are not even locked, you can just open easily,” he said.

IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said the party had repeatedly called for infrastructure to be protected.

“I have been saying that we need to spend money to protect our infrastructure. The reservoirs should be fenced.”

DA councillor Andre Beetge said: “We should admit that the municipal infrastructure is poorly guarded, security is there in name and uniform only. And it is always the same people who are doing the same thing and they are so in a rut, there is just no competition for quality service.”

Chad Thomas, organised crime expert from IRS Forensic Investigations, said attacks on critical infrastructure such as electricity and water could only be regarded as economic terrorism.

“People are deliberately sabotaging critical infrastructure so that they can monetise the resulting damage, either through the supply of products or services to repair or replace the damaged infrastructure.

“We have seen this play out on a national basis where contractors allegedly sabotage Eskom so as to get more work; and we are seeing it on a localised basis where certain contractors have allegedly sabotaged major water supply pipelines so that their tankers can be contracted to supply water to affected areas,” said Thomas.

Thomas said the entire country was reliant on a dependable electrical grid and water infrastructure, and any deliberate damage should be treated by the authorities as a crime against the State. He said perpetrators should receive the harshest sentences allowed for in law.

Head of Water and Sanitation Ednick Msweli, speaking on the water challenge in Durban North, said the water pressure in the area was improving.

“We have received reports that there have been some burst pipes, that is an indication that the water pressure has improved.”

In a statement, the municipality said: “The municipality is pleased to note that inflows and pressure required are sustaining. This is thanks to the municipality’s technical teams who have been working tirelessly to resolve the low pressure that resulted in the water supply interruption.

“This included the replacement of air valves and scouring of the line to release air that may have caused blockages in the system. ”