Communications regulator Icasa on Tuesday said it has received reports of 113 “network towers” across the country having been attacked by criminals in recent days as unprecedented violence and looting grip the country.
“Icasa unreservedly condemns the ongoing acts of violence, looting and arson currently taking place in the country, which have resulted in the disruption of communication services, closure of some community radio stations and vandalism of network facilities,” it said in a statement.
It also condemned the looting of radio stations, with some community stations forced off air after their broadcasting equipment and computers were stolen by rampaging criminal gangs.
“Such wanton destruction of the broadcasting infrastructure and facilities 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 about the current crisis. The authority accordingly condemns such criminal behaviour in the strongest of terms,” it said.
Affected community radio stations, whose equipment has been reported damaged or looted, include Alex FM, Ntokozo FM, Mams FM, Westside FM and others.
“We call on the communities to assist in guarding and protecting this critical infrastructure, and to exercise the highest levels of patriotism in this regard. Any disruption of communication services could prove disastrous and result in increased mortality as emergency calls may be directly impacted,” said Icasa chairman Keabetswe Modimoeng.
Icasa has written to National Joints Operations and Intelligence Services (NatJoints) to prioritise the safeguarding and protection of critical telecommunications infrastructure, he added.
Modimoeng added that damaging communications infrastructure is tantamount to treasonous behaviour. – © 2021 NewsCentral Media