Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Gauteng political parties lobby for a Special Police Unit to deal with destruction of infrastructure

By Baldwin Ndaba Time of article published Jun 3, 2021

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Johannesburg - Political parties in Gauteng have unanimously pledged to petition Parliament to tighten laws to deal ruthlessly with criminals destroying infrastructure belonging to entities such as Transnet, Eskom, Telkom and Rand Water.

The parties now want to lobby the national government to set up a special rapid response team of highly trained police officers to deal with organised criminal syndicates who seek to undermine the economic security of the province.

The pledge came after Gauteng ANC’s chair of chair Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane tabled a motion in the provincial legislature this week, on the establishment of a multi-sectoral task team for the protection of critical infrastructure in Gauteng.

Arguing in support of the motion, Nkosi-Malobane said the deliberate sabotage of the critical infrastructure in Gauteng since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown was tantamount to “terrorist acts coordinated by criminal syndicates.”

In her motion, Nkosi-Malobane says critical infrastructure needs to be protected as essential to foster economic growth and alleviate poverty and unemployment.

“The critical infrastructure in the form of road infrastructure, railway transport system and electric network is required to grow the economy and attract foreign direct investment for provincial economic sustainability,” Nkosi-Malobane said.

She is adamant that crime syndicates operational in Gauteng were stealing lids off manholes and selling them to scrap metal dealers in the province. According to Nkosi-Malobane, these syndicates were also responsible for the theft of cables.

“They steal everything even if it belongs to the government and then sell them to these scrap metal dealers. Some of these stolen goods belong to Eskom, Joburg Water, Telkom and Transnet,” she said.

Nkosi-Malobane expressed disgust at the matter in which a fence at Avalon Cemetery was completely stripped and some of their materials used to erect fences at a nearby informal settlement.

She said similar vandalism happened at the Orlando Power Station saying only “power stations are remaining there.”

“The other problem is the illegal miners. These people are responsible for human-made sinkholes, putting the lives of motorists and residents at risk. They are completely destroying our road infrastructure. If the police go and arrest them, they open fire at the police.

“We must deal with this lawlessness. People must be able to respect and abide by the laws of the country,” Nkosi-Malobane said

She is of the view that the Task Team will be able to arrest and prosecute the suspects. Nkosi-Malobane, however, said they will have to gazette this and lobby the government before it could be implemented in Gauteng.

Both the ANC and IFP endorsed the move. IFP’s Gauteng leader Bonginkosi Dhlamini said the prevalent crimes of infrastructure theft and vandalism have resulted in the devaluation of the province as an investment destination and further undermine prospects of recovering from the devastating impact of the Covid-19 crisis.

He said the Gauteng Transport Authority reported rail infrastructure damages of over R170 million in 2020 and it is said that 80% of the province’s rail stations are now in ruins. Dhlamini said the City of Johannesburg spends no less than R50 million per annum on infrastructure replacements and repairs and additional security.

ANC Gauteng legislature’s Chief Whip Mzi Khumalo said his party welcomed the establishment of the multi-sectoral task team for the protection of critical infrastructure saying his party was urging law enforcement agencies to ensure that criminals who damage face the full might of the law.

“The Critical Infrastructure Act is a progressive legislation that must be implemented to decisively deal with criminal acts of economic sabotage,” Khumalo said.

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Political Bureau

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