Ethekwini condemns substation sabotage
Durban - SEVERAL electricity substations were set alight in eThekwini Municipality on Monday, plunging large parts of Durban into darkness.
The municipality yesterday claimed the damage was an act of sabotage by sub-contractors dissatisfied with contractual agreements negotiated between the main contractor and the municipality.
In a strongly worded statement, the municipality said vandalism of municipal property would not be tolerated and disgruntled elements who always resorted to destructive means to raise their grievances would be dealt with harshly.
According to the municipality, areas affected included Cato Manor, Reservoir Hills, parts of Illovo, Emdumezulu, Sunduzwayo, Umbumbulu, Crestholme, KwaDabeka, Parkgate, KwaFakazi, Stamford Hill, Westville and Montford.
More than 300 workers contracted under maintenance and repair picketed outside the Durban City Hall on Monday.
They said when they arrived for duty, they were told that their contracts had been terminated.
Speaking at yesterday’s protest, a worker, who asked not to be named, said they arrived at work but to their surprise were told there was no job any more.
According to the workers, they were supposed to stop working on November 15 when their contracts would come to an end.
On Monday morning, they received a letter saying there were no funds to pay them and their contracts would be terminated with immediate effect.
Another worker, Themba Mkhize, said they had a meeting last week with city department heads and were assured their contracts would not be terminated.
Mkhize said they were still not happy with their contracts being terminated next month, adding that they were planning a mass protest in that regard.
“While we are still busy fighting that, we are now told we no longer have jobs as from today (Monday). Where must we go? I just found out today that I’m unemployed because they no longer have money to pay us.”
According to Mkhize, more than 400 workers who are employed by different contractors would be without a job.
Municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela confirmed that there had been multiple acts of sabotage by sub-contractors on the city infrastructure on Monday.
Mayisela said several sub- stations had been broken into, vandalised, switched off and some of them torched, leading to multiple power outages across the city.
He said this resulted in thousands of customers being left without electricity.
He said the cost of the damage to infrastructure is estimated to run into hundreds of thousands of rand.
Mayisela said the perpetrators had been identified and would be facing criminal charges and blacklisting by the municipality.
“Anyone seen perpetuating further damage to infrastructure will face the same might. No contracts were terminated as alleged by reports circulating in the media. However, it can be confirmed that the contract is coming to an end next month.”
He said it is suspected someone leaked incorrect information which was misinterpreted by the workers regarding the termination of their contracts.
Mayisela said that, fortunately, the municipality managed to track the vehicles used to commit all the acts of sabotage on the city infrastructure. He vowed that the city would be opening criminal cases soon and arrests would also be taking place.
“This will send a clear message that this barbarism will not be tolerated.”