Numerous official South African government websites have been down since Saturday night, barely one week after a previous outage hit the same sites.
A handful of sites using the gov.za domain were still accessible, including those of Parliament, SARS, and the National Department of Health, in addition to several municipal and provincial government sites.
A source who asked not to be identified because they were not authorised to speak to the media told MyBroadband the issue was caused by cable vandalism on a network link connected to a State IT Agency (Sita) data centre in Centurion.
According to the source, the outage also affected all external services routed via the Centurion data centre, including all external emails, remote VPN services, public DNS services, and third-party communications used by government officials in the impacted departments.
Websites confirmed to be affected by the outage included:
- South African government – http://www.gov.za
- South African Police Services – https://www.saps.gov.za/
- National Treasury – http://www.treasury.gov.za/
- Department of International Relations and Cooperation — http://www.dirco.gov.za/
- Department of Communications and Digital Technologies – https://www.dtps.gov.za/
- Department of Environmental Affairs – http://www.environment.gov.za/
- Department of Education – http://www.education.gov.za/
- Department of Home Affairs – http://dha.gov.za/
- Department of Science and Innovation – http://www.dst.gov.za/
- Department of Transport – http://www.transport.gov.za/
- Government Communication and Information Systems – https://gcis.gov.za/
- City of Tshwane – https://www.tshwane.gov.za
- SA News – https://www.sanews.gov.za/
Attempting to open these sites presented the user with a “This site can’t be reached” message, explaining the particular website took too long to respond.
The damage of copper-based Internet cables due to theft is a common problem in South Africa.
However, it was not immediately clear whether this incident involved copper cable theft, whether the thieves had mistaken fibre cables for copper, or if the vandalism occurred for another reason.
Last week’s outage, which caused the same problems, was the result of a damaged fibre cable.
Update – 11:50
Sita head of corporate affairs Tlali Tlali provided an update on the issue to MyBroadband later on Sunday morning.
“Sita experienced an Internet service outage just after midnight on Sunday morning,” Tlali said.
“We reached out to our Internet service provider who dispatched their technical team to investigate the cause of the outage.”
“The team discovered that the internet outage was caused by damage to some 18 Fibre lines which occurred in the vicinity of Centurion in Pretoria.”
Tlali said the outage impacted three provinces – Gauteng, Mpumalanga and North-West.
“Based on the progress made so far, the internet service is expected to be restored by 13:00 on Sunday afternoon,” Tlali said.
“There are plans to provide more redundancy to mitigate the service interruptions of this nature. We are focusing on accelerating the implementation of these interventions to take place in the current financial year.”
“Sita would like to apologize to all its customers and the public for the inconvenience occasioned by this service interruption.”