has had a serious impact on the plans of the Western Cape Provincial government to connect schools to broadband internet.
In her provincial newsletter, Premier Helen Zille said that service to the “priority areas” from Nyanga to Khayelitsha had been delayed owing to criminal activity.
“We have had two incidents at Makapula school where the Schools LAN service provider team was placed at risk and we had to reschedule visits to the school. Cable theft occurred at one school Masibambani Secondary School,” Michael Mpofu, spokesperson for Zille told Fin24 about the criminal activity.
He added that a number of schools have not been connected to high-speed fibre broadband because of the security risk.
“We have experienced two [security] incidents in the Nyanga area. The contractor teams in the area had to be withdrawn due to risk as a result of aggravating criminal activity which targeted the contractor teams and placed their safety at risk. There are 19 sites in the Nyanga that are still on hold pending resolution of the security risk.”
The Western Cape government is set to spend R2bn on broadband roll-out for the province and Zille said that crime would enlarge the digital divide.
“So here we have a profound irony: Our eLearning game changer is primarily meant to assist disadvantaged schools, but we cannot deliver connectivity to these schools because of crime. If we allow this to continue, the advantaged schools will continue to get more, and the digital divide will merely grow,” said Zille.
Service provider Neotel has also started marking the fibre optic cables to dissuade criminals from stealing them and Zille called on local communities to report suspicious activities.
Mpofu said that authorities have notified law enforcement agencies, but the scale of the problem made it difficult to contain.
“We do have the co-operation of law enforcement agencies and work closely with them. However due to limited resources, it is difficult to allocate full time resources to the affected sites.”
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