The DA welcomes the inroads made by the new Eastern Cape SAPS task team established to combat vandalism in Nelson Mandela Bay. However, there is still a long way to go before the onslaught on public infrastructure is brought under control.
Residents are beyond fed up with having to deal with constant traffic delays, dark streets, no water in their taps and no power in their homes because of rampant vandalism.
In response to an oral question, Community Safety MEC Xolile Nqatha revealed that the new task team, established in June this year, has already affected 302 arrests relating to vandalism.
However, over the same period, 1412 cases were reported, the bulk of which related to the theft of non-ferrous metals.
Vandalism is an extremely serious crime, as it is not just the damage or loss of infrastructure but the effects on the livelihood of the community.
Theft of electrical cables, for example, not only leaves people in darkness, but it brings traffic to a standstill as traffic lights no longer work and roads are unsafe as streetlights go dark. It impacts water distribution and sewerage works as pumps are taken offline.
This horrific destruction of essential infrastructure is ruining public facilities, and damaging the economy and the environment.
Criminals are plundering public infrastructure and destroying the very fabric of our society, and along with it our quality of life.
Reports indicate that, on a national scale, infrastructure vandalism has resulted in R7 billion worth of damage to Transnet, Telkom and Eskom. It is estimated that the ensuing costs to the economy is R187 billion annually.
This scourge needs to be eradicated from our society. The DA will continue to fight to protect public assets and ensure that everyone can benefit from them.