Govt demands action in engineer kidnapping case

South African police have been called upon to leave « no stone unturned » in the pursuit of criminals who kidnapped two engineers in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) last week.

The Department of Water and Sanitation said the hijacked engineers had been contracted by the Mhlathuze Water Board. They were apparently working to restore water infrastructure in Mntikini.

“Mhlathuze Water reported that the engineers – from Ziyanda Consulting – were conducting a site inspection of a water storage tank and a pump station when they were accosted by unknown men carrying guns.

“They were then hijacked and held hostage for nearly six hours at a nearby forest. The engineers were also robbed of some important belongings such as laptops and bank cards,” the department said in a statement.

Mhlathuze Water was appointed by Water and Sanitation Minister, Senzo Mchunu, as an implementing agent in February 2022, to take over the management, operations and maintenance of the water and sanitation infrastructure in uMkhanyakude District Municipality to ensure the full restoration of services.

Department spokesperson, Wisane Mavasa, said the department condemns the incident and calls on members of the community to work with law enforcement agencies to trace and apprehend the suspects.

“The department condemns in the strongest terms this criminal incident that involved the hijacking of expert engineers while on duty. This act of crime not only affects the workers, but it also negatively affects the community of Mntinkini because the water restoration project that was supposed to benefit all affected residents will be delayed due to safety concerns,” Mavasa said.

Mavasa said the affected engineers were working to advance a project that was meant to bring much-needed services of water and sanitation in that area.

She appealed to members of the community to own and protect water infrastructure in their area, and report incidents of vandalism to the authorities.

“We appeal to the residents to protect water infrastructure in their communities because any act of theft or vandalism of infrastructure disrupts optimal service delivery of water and sanitation to communities.

“To restore damaged infrastructure takes a long time, and this equally affects the provision of services to the affected communities. The communities are therefore encouraged to take ownership of infrastructure in their area and protect it from vandalism or theft,” Mavasa said. –