KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport officials were held at gunpoint in uMzinyathi and robbed while repairing roads that were damaged by the devastating floods, the department said on Wednesday.
The department said it was concerned about the alarming increase in levels of crimes perpetrated against officials while carrying out service delivery.
“There are a few incidents that have occurred around the areas of uMzinyathi in eThekwini, where staff members have been hijacked and state vehicles taken at gunpoint,” department spokesperson Kwanele Ncalane said.
Speaking about the latest incident, Ncalane said the workers’ lives were being threatened by people “who are enemies of services delivery”.
He said it was the second incident to happen in a few weeks.
“In one of the incidents on the same road, some of the staff were victimised by criminals, who took away the brush cutters. These equipments are essential in maintaining road infrastructure projects,” he said.
Ncalane said the on-going acts of criminality will not only impact the pace of service delivery, but would instil fear in staff members working in these communities.
“The department has since engaged with the law enforcement agencies to pay close attention to the levels of crime on P100 and other roads, where the lives of our staff are in danger,” he said.
Head of Department, Sboniso Mbhele called on community structures, including ward committees and ward councillors to work together in protecting the equipment and staff members.
“We urge communities to stand up and expose the criminals who are targeting departmental properties and staff members.
“This is impacting negatively on service delivery and we need to work with all stakeholders to protect our employees,” Mbhele said.
Mbhele said they were concerned that there seems to be a well-orchestrated syndicate operating on this road.
“We appeal to law enforcement to investigate and arrest the perpetrators. While there are no lives lost in two incidents, we would, however, wish to see these criminals arrested sooner than later,” he said.