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Post offices’ IT infrastructure destroyed amid looting

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Communications and digital technologies minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.
Communications and digital technologies minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.

Close to 20 South African Post Office (SAPO) facilities have been vandalised, with some being set alight, destroying critical ICT equipment in the process.

The Department of Communications and Digital Technologies told ITWeb that laptops and computers, and cash deposit safes were completely destroyed in KwaZulu-Natal amid the violent riots and looting.

In addition, four SAPO vehicles were set on fire, according to the communications department.

During a visit to Alexandra Township (Alex) yesterday, department minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams described the post office situation as sad.

Ndabeni-Abrahams was among the ministers that visited Alex, to assess the damage caused by the looting and vandalism of premises in the area.

Speaking to 24-hour news channel eNCA, she revealed the post office’s equipment, including laptops, vehicles and safes, had been destroyed. “We have already put a plan in place to ensure the beneficiaries are not affected.

“We established a PMO [project management office] of the industry to determine how to address some of these challenges. Laptops are already available, SITA [State IT Agency] is working on programming them, and the group CEO of the post office is trying to determine if we can bring a container or rent a space so that the services can continue as planned.”

Ndabeni-Abrahams warned against further vandalism and destruction of the contingency measures that are being put in place.

Commenting on the looting of equipment at popular community radio station Alex FM, the minster said such damage inhibits access to information for members of the community.

The Independent Communications Authority of SA also decried vandalism of critical communications infrastructure, saying it 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.

Says Ndabeni-Abrahams: “It’s about having access not only to communication but to information, which is a right that is enshrined in the Constitution. Therefore, if you stand in the way of a person who is there to deliver a message to the people, you are violating the Constitution.

“It’s [Alex FM] not only a station, it’s access to communication – a liaison officer between the community, government and everybody else.

“We are calling on everyone who is engaging in these activities [looting] to desist from that. Law enforcement agencies are ready to make sure that when we report those matters, those people are jailed.”

List of post office branches that were vandalised in KZN:

  • Umlazi post office standalone
  • Inanda post office in shopping centre
  • Clernaville post office standalone
  • Kwadabeka post office standalone
  • New Germany post office in shopping centre
  • Tugela Ferry post office in shopping centre
  • Umlazi depot and post office standalone
  • Mega City post office in shopping centre
  • Kwa Mashu post office in shopping centre
  • Mkhondeni post office in shopping centre
  • Sundumbili post office in shopping centre
  • Richmond post office in shopping centre.

The following were set alight:

  • Plessislaer post office in shopping centre
  • Philani Valley post office in shopping centre
  • Mkhondeni post office in shopping centre
  • Nagina post office in shopping complex
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