The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), has said up to 113 network towers including other communications infrastructure have been vandalised as the worst violence and looting continues to engulf the nation.
The violence which started as protests against the incarceration of former President Jacob Zuma for contempt of court quickly turned ugly as hundreds of businesses were looted and infrastructure destroyed.
In a statement, ICASA Chairperson, Dr Keabetswe Modimoeng said, “We call on the communities to assist in guarding and protecting this critical infrastructure, and to exercise the highest levels of patriotism in this regard. Any disruption of communication services could prove disastrous and result in increased mortality as emergency calls may be directly impacted.”
The acts of violence, looting and arson taking place in South Africa has resulted in the disruption of communication services, closure of some community radio stations and vandalism of network facilities, says ICASA.
Affected community radio stations, whose equipment has been reported damaged or looted, include Alex FM, Ntokozo FM, Mams FM and Westside FM, among others.
As the unrest continues unabated, ICASA has written to the National Joints Operations and Intelligence Services (NatJoints) to prioritise the safeguarding and protection of critical telecommunications infrastructure.
The regulator has also called on the communities to assist in guarding and protecting this critical infrastructure, and to exercise the highest levels of patriotism in this regard.
In South Africa theft and vandalism of the telecommunications infrastructure can attract stiff penalties of long jail terms as it is regarded to be of a treasonous nature.
TechMetro Africa will continue to monitor developments and will provide the latest updates as the situation remains volatile in South Africa.