On Tuesday morning, criminals entered Alex FM’s facilities and destroyed the radio station’s equipment, including a state-of-the-art studio.
This theft and vandalism formed part of the ongoing rioting and looting which is taking place in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
Alex FM lost an estimated R5 million in equipment.
Alex FM station manager, Takalane Nemangowe, said the destruction of the facility left them devastated.
“The community of Alexandra is robbed of its radio station and platform of engagement,” Nemangowe said.
He said it took them 27 years to build the radio station and buy equipment to serve their community.
It took “criminals masquerading as political protesters” only hours to destroy what took nearly three decades to build.
The good news is that people, including industry players and commercial radio stations, are assisting Alex FM to get up and running again.
“We appreciate it as we cannot have a situation where the people of Alexandra do not have a voice,” said Nemangowe.
Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams condemned the action of people who destroyed Alex FM, saying they had on right to do it.
— Alex FM Radio 891 (@AlexFMRadio891) July 13, 2021
Alex FM is not the only radio station targeted by rioters.
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) said the acts of violence, looting, and arson had disrupted various communication services.
Criminals looted and damaged communications equipment and vandalised telecoms infrastructure, including 113 network towers.
The looting and vandalism affected numerous community radio stations, including Ntokozo FM, Mams FM, and Westside FM.
“Such destruction of broadcasting infrastructure and facilities represents a direct attack on the constitutional right of individuals to access news and information,” ICASA said.
The regulator called on communities to assist in guarding and protecting this critical communications infrastructure.
“Any disruption of communication services could prove disastrous and result in increased mortality as emergency calls may be directly impacted,” said ICASA chairperson Keabetswe Modimoeng.