R5000 reward to catch pump station arsonists

Inside the Wallacedene pump station that was set alight at the weekend.

It could cost hundreds of thousands of rand to repair Wallacedene’s Swellini Street pump station, which is out of commission after it was torched on Saturday, says the City.

A R5 000 reward is being offered for information leading to arrests and the recovery of stolen infrastructure, says mayoral committee member for water Dr Zahid Badroodien

The act of arson had caused sewage to flood the pump station, and both electrical and mechanical equipment needed for it to function had been destroyed, he said.

“This means it is unable to operate. The costs to repair this facility, which has a critical function in conveying sewage from homes and businesses to wastewater treatment plants, could mount to hundreds of thousands of rand,” Dr Badroodien said.

“This will also impact on the surrounding communities and the receiving natural environment. With the winter rains looming and the pump station not working, rainwater will dilute the sewage and spill into the streets, giving rise to potential health concerns.

“Furthermore, raw sewage that enters the environment will affect water quality in the system, making it unusable for water users downstream, such as farmers.”

His directorate was seeking ways to reduce the impact, including diverting flow from the pump station to other parts of the sewer network, but the station was likely to be out of commission for a while, he said.

“It is the public’s rates and tariffs that pay for the repair and replacement of infrastructure that is vandalised – money that could be used to expand the pipe replacement programme or conduct other proactive maintenance work.”

Meanwhile, an unsigned City report bearing the name of pump station manager Ntsikelelo Luthuli says a transformer in the Swelleni pump station was installed in the first week of February 2021, and land invaders connected to it and damaged the diesel-operated pump station.

The report, “Pump Station Service Delivery: Kraaifontein – Wallacedene and Bloekombos”, says a private security company stationed a guard there, in 2021, but the guard was chased away by people who built a new informal settlement next to the pump station.

The City previously told Northern News that illegal connections to the transformer on Swellini Street had damaged the facility in May 2021.

Sub-council 2 officials recently discussed a R50m short-term plan to address issues surrounding the pump station and streets mired in sewage.