THE "spike in sabotage" that affected about 13,200 Telkom customers is related to "industrial action" by the Communication Workers Union (CWU)‚ the utility said on Sunday.
"These are not random acts of vandalism or incidents of cable theft. These people know where to go and what to do to wreak maximum damage. This is in-house‚" said Telkom spokesperson Jacqui O’Sullivan.
Telkom and the CWU were due to hold talks on Monday in a bid to end a four-week strike.
"A total of 85 street distribution cabinets (SDCs) have been damaged in the past five days‚" said O’Sullivan.
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An SDC is a "control point where the main cable from the exchange and the distribution cables from several distribution points are terminated".
"Many of these SDCs have either been fully repaired or are partially repaired. In areas where the work is still under way‚ the technicians are bringing streets back online as they complete the repairs. Our teams will continue to work around the clock until the service to all the affected customers is restored."
O’Sullivan said although fewer than "870 CWU members were on strike on Friday this thuggish behaviour has now had a significant impact on many residential and business customers".
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"These incidents are examples of ongoing acts of intimidation by the CWU and the spike in sabotage is related to this industrial action.
"We would like to apologise to all our customers for the inconvenience caused by this sabotage. We remain firm in our decision to implement an incentive programme that will reward employees each month for delivering superior customer service and improved productivity‚" she said.
"Two of the three unions have agreed to this approach as they see customer service remains a central stumbling block in our business. We are committed to fixing this and we apologise that some of our customers have been affected by the CWU strike"‚ O’Sullivan added.
Telkom last week announced a R500,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the saboteurs.