13 July 2021
Pretoria – The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA/the Authority) unreservedly condemns the ongoing acts of violence, looting and arson currently taking place in the country, which have resulted in the disruption of communication services, closure of some community radio stations and vandalism of network facilities.
The affected community radio stations, whose equipment has been reported damaged or looted, include Alex FM, Ntokozo FM, Mams FM and Westside FM, to name but a few.
The Authority has further received reports of vandalism of communications infrastructure, including 113 network towers in some parts of the country. Such wanton destruction of the broadcasting infrastructure and facilities represents a direct attack on the constitutional right of individuals and communities to access news and information that is accurate, unbiased and up-to-date about the current crisis. The Authority accordingly condemns such criminal behaviour in the strongest of terms.
“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,” says ICASA Chairperson, Dr Keabetswe Modimoeng.
Dr Modimoeng further states that ICASA has written to the National Joints Operations and Intelligence Services (NatJoints) to prioritise the safeguarding and protection of this critical telecommunications infrastructure.
In the Cape Town Regional Court last year, a man charged with theft and vandalism of the telecommunications infrastructure was found guilty of 25 counts of theft and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for each of the 25 counts, collectively amounting to 500 years of direct imprisonment. “The judgement is a clear indication that the impact of battery theft and site vandalism is of a treasonous nature,” says Dr Modimoeng.
The Authority, through its Regional Offices in all nine (9) Provinces, will continue to closely monitor the situation during this volatile period.