uThukela vandalised water infrastructure to cost millions of rand to fix, Newsline

Durban – VANDALISM of water infrastructure in uThukela District Municipality has continued unabated across the municipality, leaving communities in Ladysmith and Estcourt without water.

This comes after a multi-million rand plant in Bhekuzulu, under Inkosi Langalibalele Municipality, was vandalised – pump station B was damaged.

The municipality said this was among the worst offences being perpetrated by some criminal syndicates in communities.

It further said such acts had dire consequences, as they contributed to the interruption of water supply.

According to the municipality, pump station B was the key pump station for transferring water from the Loskop system to more than seven wards under the municipality.

Municipal communications manager Jabulani Mkhonza said, upon inspecting the pump station, their site engineers found all the electrical cabling, from the Eskom transformer right into the pump building, had been stolen.

Mkhonza said the locks on the main doors of the pump station had been broken.

“Inside the pump station, the cabling in and out of the main control centre (MCC) panel and to all three pumps had been stolen.

“In the process, the MCC has been extensively damaged. Other minor control cabling, to and from the meter and control switches, has also been removed or damaged.”

He said the damage caused by the theft was extensive and would be costly to repair.

It would also result in a further significant delay to the commissioning of the balance of the Bhekuzulu-Ephangweni WSS.

Mkhonza said they were concerned that further theft may be planned, as the electric motors for the pumps could also be targeted for removal.

He said the municipality was struggling financially, and such criminal acts were putting more pressure on the finances and functioning of the municipality.

“It’s a lot of work to fix all the damaged infrastructure. It takes time and a lot of money, which the municipality does not have at this stage. This is taking us backwards in terms of service delivery. There are a lot of industrial activities happening in the area and they will be affected as well,” said Mkhonza.

He said they were yet to complete the costs of damage assessment, however, they believe it amounted to millions of rand.

“Detailed information will be supplied once the extent of the damage has been fully investigated.”

uThukela District mayor Siphiwe Mazibuko urged the community to come forward with information that could lead to the successful arrest and prosecution of perpetrators.

“Communities should remain vigilant and report vandalism to the local police, as most criminal elements who commit these crimes belong to the community,” said Mazibuko.

The Mercury