Three arrested in KZN as vandalism of telecoms towers persists
By Jehran Daniel 27m ago
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DURBAN – Four suspects were interrupted while trying to steal a Vodacom telecoms tower battery on Tuesday in western KwaZulu-Natal.
The South African Police Service (SAPS) on Tuesday confirmed the arrest of three suspects, while the search is on for the fourth.
High up in the mountainous area of Monteseel, nestled in the Valley of a Thousand Hills, a local security company saw the four suspects in a white Chevrolet bakkie attempting to steal batteries from a cellphone tower near a lookout point.
The security company, Nhlalenhle Security, called out the SAPS search and rescue and the eThekwini fire department.
“Two suspects were arrested immediately on scene, while another two ran into an embankment into dense bushes. A third suspect was later arrested by the security officers,” said police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele in a statement.
The three suspects were detained at Inchanga police station, just west of the Durban central business district.
Mbele said that one Vodacom tower battery was recovered from the suspects’ vehicle.
Earlier this month, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala held a special meeting in order to debunk myths surrounding 5G and the coronavirus which had led to the destruction of several towers belonging to major network providers.
Zikalala condemned the vandalism, saying it was a criminal offence.
“Importantly, the KZN government regards technological innovation as critical in speeding economic growth and leapfrogging stages of development. Harnessed properly, telecommunication infrastructure, broadband networks and digital innovation can make KwaZulu-Natal a leader in Africa and the world,” the premier said.
Much of the destruction of the towers emanated from misinformation permeating social media.
Adding fuel to the fire of conspiracy theories was ANC ward 24 councillor Sfiso Mngadi.
“As leaders of eThekwini we need to take action against this disease. It is not Covid. We are getting this thing from 5G towers, (some) installed during this period in preparation of the second wave,” Mngadi was caught saying on a voice note circulating on social media.
The ANC and Zikalala distanced themselves from Mngadi’s remarks and summoned him to account for his wild allegations about the virus.
eThekwini speaker Weziwe Thusi said that it was a “pity” that a leader in society demonstrated such a grim level of ignorance.
Minister of Communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams also condemned the acts of vandalism against towers, saying that telecoms was crucial in the fight against the pandemic.
“It is regrettable that the much-needed network infrastructure is being destroyed. The country currently needs resilient and high-speed connectivity for every citizen to enable them to participate meaningfully in the digital economy,” Ndabeni-Abrahams said earlier this month.
African News Agency (ANA)