The fight against criminal elements that are hell-bent on vandalising and stripping critical municipal infrastructure that provides electricity and water to communities in Province received a major boost when

a court in Pietermaritzburg, yesterday, sentenced two men (Xolani Mbeje and Mzwandile Mnyaka) to 18 months of imprisonment each for trying to steal electricity cables in a substation in Pietermaritzburg. 

The two men were found guilty of breaking into the vicinity of the Piet Retief electricity substation, to vandalise and steal electricity cables. 

This substation provides electricity to hundreds of houses as well as the business and manufacturing sectors in the Mkondeni and Willowton Road areas in Pietermaritzburg. 

While government institutions are working hard to provide services, there are criminal elements who are hell bent on reversing this work which negatively impacts the lives of citizens.

The sentence sends a warning to criminals and syndicates that are attacking critical public infrastructure that the courts and law enforcement will do everything in their power to ensure that swift justice is handed out to those that are responsible. 

We wish to commend the law enforcement agencies and the Council of the Msunduzi Local Municipality which is led by the Mayor Cllr Mzimkhulu Thebolla for the measures that were put in place to safeguard this substation, as it was these measures that provided an early warning. 

In our budget policy speech for the year 2022/23, we indicated that will be transferring R16 million to the Msunduzi Local Municipality as part of support measures aimed at stabilising the electricity supply. Last year the department transferred R9 million as part of these efforts which bring the total investment by the department to R25 million. This is part of the overall support that the department has been providing to the municipality.

We call upon all our municipalities to strengthen measures aimed at preventing the vandalism and theft of critical public infrastructure. 

We also call upon communities to report any suspicious

activities they might notice near-critical installations such as substations and water reservoirs. 

 Issued by the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Sipho Hlomuka