Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, has welcomed pledges and donations towards rebuilding community radio stations that were vandalised during last week’s unrest.

The unrest resulted in the deaths of civilians and looting of public and private property, destruction of infrastructure, including the suspension of essential services in some parts of the country.

Alex FM, Ntokozo FM, Mams FM and Westside FM were among the community radio stations whose equipment was damaged or looted.

“As the Ministry of Communications and Digital Technologies, and the custodian of broadcasting policy in the country, we acknowledge the contribution made by the public to rebuild these community radio stations, which play an important role in disseminating relevant and necessary information to listeners,” Ndabeni-Abrahams said on Monday.

The Minister described the destruction of infrastructure as an infringement on the rights of others.

“Our resources are stretched already and the massive cost to replace infrastructure associated with rebuilding damaged infrastructure means that the delivery of other services will be hampered. It will take many years before the destroyed public and business infrastructure can be rebuilt,” the Minister said.

Significant communications infrastructure has been vandalised, including network towers in some parts of the country.

The Department of Communications and Digital Technologies met with mobile operators to assess the nature of vandalism of network towers.

The purpose of the meeting was to also explore collaborative efforts aimed at protecting communications infrastructure and deploy mop-up operators to affected areas.

The telecommunications sector has been plagued by the destruction of network towers, resulting in network operators incurring billions of rands in replacements costs.

“It is regrettable that much-needed network infrastructure is being destroyed. The country currently needs resilient and high-speed connectivity for every citizen, to enable them to participate meaningfully in the digital economy. Furthermore, mobile telephony is crucial in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic,” Ndabeni-Abrahams said.

Source: South African Government News Agency