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Looted east radio station back on the air

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

An east radio station, servicing the Mamelodi area, that was hit by looters during widespread unrest and violence last week is back on the air.

The looting spree hampered communications in some parts of the country due to a significant amount of infrastructure such as network towers being vandalised.

Mams FM operational manager Sipho Motau said looters targeted their radio stations broadcasting transmitter and other office equipment, leaving some of the costly assets vandalised, while others were stolen.

This left the station being unable to broadcast on Monday last week.

“We are happy to announce that Mams FM is back on the air,” he said on Tuesday about the broadcast live from Boston Media House, courtesy of Jacaranda FM and Tuks FM.

Mams FM after being looted last week. Photo: Supplied.

“We apologise for any inconvenience to those who rely on Mams FM as the beacon of information, hope and lifestyle,” said Motau.

He said the station would be broadcasting from 06:00 until 21:00 Monday to Sunday, until further notice.

Currently, negotiations were underway with donors to help rebuild the damaged studios.

Motau said they had since opened a case and police were investigating.

“We call anyone with information to come forward or inform the police about the looting and vandalism at the station.”

Mams FM was not the only community radio station to suffer damage during the uprising.

Communications and digital technologies minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams welcomed pledges and donations towards rebuilding community radio stations that were vandalised.

“We acknowledge the contribution made by the public to rebuild radio stations, such as Alex FM, Ntokozo FM, Mams FM and Westside FM, which play an important role in disseminating relevant and necessary information to listeners.”

Ndabeni-Abrahams said the destruction of infrastructure was 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.”

She said it would take “many years” before the destroyed public and business infrastructure could be rebuilt.

“The department 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.”

Ndabeni-Abrahams said the telecommunications sector had been plagued by the destruction of network towers, resulting in network operators incurring billions of rands in replacements costs.

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