The Emfuleni Local Municipality has condemned the ongoing attacks on its infrastructure from cable theft syndicates.

According to the municipality the attacks, which recently claimed the life of a security guard at the Rietspruit Waste Water Treatment Works, have reached crisis levels in the municipality.

“Theft, damage and vandalism of municipal infrastructure are worrying factors which have reached crisis level in Emfuleni,” the municipality said.

“Over the past five years, the municipality has lost over R1 million on cable theft at Rietspruit WWTW alone. This latest incident will drain a further R 280 000 from the coffers of the already financially burdened ELM,” it explained.

An embattled municipality

The embattled municipality was thrust into the spotlight recently with the collapse of its finances and service delivery, particularly its sewage services which resulted in the pollution of both Emfuleni and surrounding rivers including the Vaal.

The situation in the municipality has been so dire that national government has had to step in with a Financial Recovery Plan, while the South African National Defence Force has stepped in to help clean up the Vaal River.

Furthermore the pollution of the Vaal has been submitted to the SA Human Rights Commission for investigation following an outcry from civil society organisations.

Criminals must account for their actions

Meanwhile the municipality has noted that it will be working closely with the South African Police Service to ensure that the criminals responsible for damaging its infrastructure account for their actions

“Without question, cable theft hampers service delivery programmes on the part of the municipality and its consumers. Rationally, the municipality will not allow a situation whereby its infrastructure is subjected to an onslaught of deliberate damages by criminal elements” the municipality said.