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SPTC, MTN blackout!

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By CASSANDRA SHAW - SWAZI TIMES-13-Jun-2009

MBABANE – Police have been roped in after SPTC fibre lines that carry communication traffic between Mbabane and Manzini were burnt early yesterday morning.

This resulted in a serious communication blackout in several places around the country. The lines in the telecomm-unications infrastructure in Ezulwini next to an overhead bridge near Buka were allegedly intentionally burnt by unknown people.

Fibre lines could be likened to communication cables that ferry data and belong to the Swaziland Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (SPTC).

On Tuesday and Wednesday an influx of anonymous calls were received by SPTC and this publication to the effect that a communications blackout was being piloted.

The callers said SPTC management had incited war and it would be met by a communication blackout in the country. They called for immediate and unconditional reinstatement of their suspended colleagues. So serious were the callers such that some stated that they exactly know where to strike to bring down all communication.

“We are the people on the ground and we know where the bases are,” said one caller claiming to be an employee of SPTC. According to the corporation’s Managing Director, Nathi Dlamini, it was established that a liquid fuel was intentionally injected into the underground fibre lines and then set alight.

This resulted in extensive damage being done on the actual fibre line, thereby paralysing service delivery. “It must be stated that advance warnings were received as late as the night before (Wednesday) that something like this would occur, and attempts were immediately made to avert the situation. Had we not been vigilant all night, it is safe to say things could have been worse,” he said.

Affected customers are those around Ezulwini, Matsapha and Manzini while MTN leased lines and some bank services have not been spared. “The perpetrators actually made a number of anonymous phone calls, of unprintable expletives, bragging of their evil intentions. Attempts at voice analysis are being conducted,” he explained.

SPTC Corporate Affairs and Transformation Manager Lindiwe Dlamini lamented the incident. She said, “Maybe it was not a threat after all as the callers did accomplish their mission. The network is out, they sabotaged fibre lines and we have since made a report to the police because this is a criminal offence,” she said. She said the matter was no longer being dealt with by SPTC because the whole nation was now at risk and the relevant structures had to be roped in.

“It’s easy (to know the people) because it’s the ones who called. It is the people who are aggrieved,” she said. Police Public Relations Officer (PRO) Superintendent Vusi Masuku said Lobamba police were investigating the matter. The incident happened at a time when SPTC management and some of its workers were at logger heads following the alleged suspension and charges of misconduct preferred against some of the employees.


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