Cable theft and vandalism of water infrastructure at production boreholes in Peacetown (Ward 15) and Watersmeet (Ward 16 and 18) resulted in major interruptions of water distribution / supply in most areas within the Driefontein Block over the weekend.
Upon routine inspections in the Driefontein Block in the early hours of Saturday morning (October 6), it was discovered that the newly refurbished water pump and electric components and pumps had once again been vandalised and burnt.
As a result, areas such as Peacetown and Watersmeet were severely affected.
This unfortunate incident happened just after water supply had been stabilised in these areas.
The incident prompted the leadership of uThukela District Municipality – comprising Mayor Siphiwe Mazibuko, Deputy Mayor NW Sibiya, Chief Whip S Dlungwane and other officials – to host a series of sectional community meetings in the affected areas on Sunday to inform the people about this act of senseless sabotage.
Read initial story: Warning: Sabotage to water pump causes water shortages
“This is a deliberate disregard for the rights of others, which amounts to an act of sabotage equivalent to treason and must be condemned in the strongest terms possible.
“As we are all aware, water is a basic human right. This senseless act of vandalism of water infrastructure is barbaric, selfish and infringes on the rights of citizens. We must come together as members of society and expose these saboteurs so 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 damage to infrastructure has been repaired, the reservoirs take a long time to fill up.
Over the past four weeks, upon daily routine inspections undertaken at production boreholes in the above-mentioned areas, the pumps were discovered to have been tampered with. All the pumps supplying the three wards within the Driefontein Block were reversed or manipulated to not pump water to the relevant areas.
However, the district municipality 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 amounts to about R2.3 million. The cost includes upgrading the security of the infrastructure.
A theft and vandalism case has been opened.
It was also reported to CoGTA and the Office of the Premier.
Detailed assessments of the vandalised infrastructure have been undertaken.
uThukela District Municipality is in the process of sourcing materials required for repairs, and internal teams are in the process of reinstating water supply in the affected areas.
According to uThukela spokesperson Jabulani Mkhonza, “We have confidence that 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.”