The City of Cape Town’s Water and Sanitation Directorate was alerted last night, Saturday, 7 May 2022, that its Wallacedene sewer pump station was torched by arsonists. This prompted an emergency response from the sewer maintenance team and preliminary investigations revealed that both the electrical and mechanical equipment required for the pump station to function was completely destroyed. This means it is unable to operate. The costs to repair this facility, which has a critical function in conveying sewage from homes and businesses to Wastewater Treatment plants, could mount to hundreds of thousands of rands.
The City of Cape Town’s Water and Sanitation team is urging anyone with information about this incident to please report this urgently so it can be investigated and the culprits held accountable for their actions.
‘This act of vandalism has resulted in sewer overflows and flooding at the pump station as well as the linked sewer network throughout Wallacedene. This will also impact on the surrounding communities and the receiving natural environment. With the winter rains looming and the pump station not working, rainwater will dilute the sewage and spill into the streets, giving rise to potential health concerns. Furthermore, raw sewage that enters the environment will affect water quality in the system, making it unusable for water users downstream, such as farmers.
‘The Water and Sanitation sewer teams are currently exploring a multitude of options to eliminate and reduce the impact as far as it is possibly practical to do so. This includes diverting flow from the damaged pump station to other parts of the sewer network where possible. The use of sewer tankers and over-pumping methods are, for the time being, logistically not possible.
‘The level of infrastructure destruction caused by this criminal incident will see this very critical pump station out of operation for quite some time, which will also negatively impact the surrounding areas over the same period. The public is assured that this matter is a priority for us and our team will continue to monitor this matter closely,’ said Councillor Zahid Badroodien, Mayoral Committee Member for Water and Sanitation.
The public is reminded that a reward of up to R5 000 is being offered to anyone who reports any incident or provides information related to theft and vandalism of water and sanitation infrastructure that leads to a successful arrest or recovery of stolen infrastructure.
‘The reward of up to R5 000 underscores the City’s efforts to combat the malicious destruction to our infrastructure. Additionally, it will help to encourage residents to be vigilant and to protect public infrastructure. A zero tolerance approach must be adopted if we are serious about tackling this attack head-on. At the end of the day, it is the public’s rates and tariffs that pay for the repair and replacement of infrastructure that is vandalised – money that could be used to expand the pipe replacement programme or conduct other proactive maintenance work.
‘The City, residents and other stakeholders need to all work together to clamp down on theft and vandalism because these selfish acts by thieves and vandals result in sewer blockages and overflows in the streets of our communities. Anyone who provides information can do so confidentially,’ said Councillor Badroodien.
Tampering, theft and vandalism of essential electricity infrastructure, including cables supplying power to pump stations, is seen as a priority crime due to the extremely negative impact on the rights of communities, and as per Section 2 of the Criminal Matters Amendment Act (Act 18 0f 2015), imprisonment not exceeding 30 years and fines not exceeding R100 million are possible when found guilty.
All witnessed or potential incidents must be reported immediately to the City’s public emergency call centre:
• 107 from a landline
• 021 480 7700 from a cellphone
Help us protect our city infrastructure by taking a stand against criminals set on damaging infrastructure necessary to ensure effective service delivery and clean, dignified streets across our city.
Source: City Of Cape Town