No proof of wa­ter valves sab­o­tage, of­fi­cial says

But po­lice are prob­ing al­le­ga­tions in­volv­ing dis­sat­is­fied work­ers, writes No­maz­ima Nkosi

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - NEWS -

WHILE Nel­son Man­dela Bay mayor Athol Trollip has linked what he al­leged to be the de­lib­er­ate clo­sure of wa­ter valves around the city to sab­o­tage, mu­nic­i­pal cor­po­rate ser­vices boss Vuyi Zi­tu­mane says there is no hard proof of this.

Since last month, thou­sands of res­i­dents have been left with­out wa­ter at week­ends due to mu­nic­i­pal work­ers re­fus­ing to work with­out be­ing paid over­time.

Many of the wa­ter prob­lems were later linked to valves which had been switched off in ar­eas such as New Brighton, Zwide, Despatch and KwaNobuhle.

Trollip was adamant at a press con­fer­ence in Oc­to­ber and has said on so­cial me­dia since then, that it was sab­o­tage.

“[It] is an act of sab­o­tage com­pounded by po­lit­i­cal med­dling,” he told jour­nal­ists at the time.

One of Trollip’s tweets in Oc­to­ber, stated: “This is con­fir­ma­tion of our fears of sab­o­tage by work­ers who are stay­ing away in protest against the ap­pli­ca­tion of coun­cil’s over­time pol­icy.”

But Zi­tu­mane said there was no proof of the sab­o­tage claims.

“There is no hard ev­i­dence of sab­o­tage and only af­ter the in­ves­ti­ga­tions have been con­cluded will a state­ment be is­sued in this re­gard,” she said.

May­oral spokesman Si­bongile Dim­baza said the mu­nic­i­pal­ity was look­ing at all sce­nar­ios as to why the valves had been switched off.

“How­ever, we are of the opin­ion that the well-timed out­ages are as a re­sult of hu­man in­ter­ven­tion, but we hope to gain more in­sight into the mat­ter once on­go­ing in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions have been con­cluded,” he said.

Also re­fer­ring to the loss of wa­ter sup­ply in sev­eral ar­eas at the same press brief­ing in Oc­to­ber, en­gi­neer­ing and in­fra­struc­ture po­lit­i­cal head Annette Love­more said: “We know who had keys to which valves. We are able to track which ve­hi­cles were where.”

But Zi­tu­mane said no of­fi­cial had been sus­pended or charged since the press brief­ing. “There is a sense of un­hap­pi­ness and the ex­ec­u­tive direc­tors are mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion and will re­port af­ter iden­ti­fy­ing em­ploy­ees re­fus­ing to work over­time,” Zi­tu­mane said.

“This is due to an over­time pol­icy dis­pute be­tween the work­ers and the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, [with the work­ers] de­mand­ing that they be paid ac­cord­ing to a long-stand­ing col­lec­tive agree­ment rather than a new over­time pol­icy.”

She said de­part­ments mostly af­fected in­cluded elec­tric­ity and en­ergy; in­fra­struc­ture and en­gi­neer­ing; and pub­lic health.

The mu­nic­i­pal­ity has since laid a crim­i­nal charge at five dif­fer­ent po­lice sta­tions around the city.

Po­lice spokesman Cap­tain An­dré Beetge said po­lice were in­ves­ti­gat­ing the mat­ter fur­ther as “points of wa­ter cuts have not yet been iden­ti­fied by the po­lice”.

“A case of con­tra­ven­ing mu­nic­i­pal­ity by­laws is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated in terms of tam­per­ing with muni- cipal struc­tures. Po­lice are wait­ing for a doc­u­ment to be handed over by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity which iden­ti­fies the points which have been tam­pered with,” Beetge said.

Love­more said even though they had no hard proof, the mu­nic­i­pal­ity did know that spe­cific valves had been opened and closed when this was not re­quired.

“We know the valves were opened or closed af­ter hours and spe­cial tools are re­quired to open and close them.”

She said they had af­fi­davits from “sources” who had seen what they be­lieved to be peo­ple work­ing on “our net­work ex­actly in those ar­eas that were af­fected”.

Asked why no dis­ci­plinary ac- tion had been taken, Love­more said the po­lice were still in­ves­ti­gat­ing with an in­ter­nal probe also un­der way.

SA Mu­nic­i­pal Work­ers Union re­gional sec­re­tary Mqon­disi Nodongwe said the mu­nic­i­pal­ity would re­ceive an in­ter­dict soon, legally stop­ping it from im­ple­ment­ing the new over­time pol­icy.

In re­sponse to sab­o­tage al­le­ga­tions made by Trollip, Nodongwe said it was the mayor him­self who was sab­o­tag­ing the mu­nic­i­pal­ity by in­tro­duc­ing un­law­ful poli­cies. “We are not farm work­ers. “We are highly unionised. “We know the leg­is­la­tion that pro­tects us, so if he con­tra­venes the leg­is­la­tion then un­for­tu­nately he is not go­ing to get co-op­er­a­tion from us.”

Dim­baza said unions had a role to play and it was “quite un­der­stand­able what in­forms their views”.

“The mayor spoke from an in­formed po­si­tion be­cause the sab­o­tage al­le­ga­tions are based on pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tions which have es­tab­lished that un­der­hand­ed­ness was at play,” Dim­baza said.

‘‘ This is con­fir­ma­tion of our fears of sab­o­tage by work­ers who are stay­ing away in protest against the ap­pli­ca­tion of coun­cil’s over­time pol­icy NEL­SON MAN­DELA BY MAYOR ATHOL TROLLIP

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