Sabotage knocked out more than 30 000 voice and 9 000 digital phone line subscribers throughout Buffalo City yesterday.
The major disruptions caused communications chaos between East London and Mthatha in businesses and private homes yesterday.
Telkom spokesman Gugulethu Maqetuka confirmed that its Openserve network experienced problems in the eastern and south-eastern areas of the country.
“This was a result of sabotage on our core fibre cable network, specifically between East London and Amalinda, and Kidds Beach and Greenfields areas,” he said.
“We had two breaks over a two-day period, which impacted our team’s ability to restore the services.”
The problem affected asymmetric digital subscriber lines (ADSL) and digital subscriber lines (DSL).
“More than 30000 voice customers and 9000 DSL customers were impacted,” Maqetuka said.
The services were restored later yesterday afternoon.
Modems in homes and business networks, as well as phone lines, were affected.
Services provided by home affairs, municipalities and businesses were affected by the outage.
Buffalo City Metro spokesman Samkelo Ngwenya told the Daily Dispatch: “There was cable theft around East London and King William’s Town.”
He said the metro had experienced challenges when dialling externally, including cellphones. “The disruptions were minimal and we were able to operate and improvise.”
Elderly women who took a trip from Cathcart and Stutterheim to the home affairs department in King William’s Town yesterday had to wait hours before they could collect their new smart identity cards.
When the Dispatch visited the office after 3pm yesterday, some of the gogos had been helped while others were still waiting.
Home affairs Amathole and BCM regional IT manager Thobela Nogemane said the problem started around 10am in the King William’s Town office but no problems were experienced in East London.
“Our data line was down on the Telkom supply line. That means all work dependent on e-mails and internet, including ID applications and death certificates, could not be processed.
“Some of the pensioners went back home while the system was down.
“It was bad because these pensioners spent money to come here as the smart ID cards can’t be done in their towns. The banks in King William’s Town were also affected,” said Nogemane.
Border-Kei Chamber of Business chairman Les Holbrook said about 80% of businesses in East London had been affected.
“Every company that works with communications, contacts customers and suppliers experienced the problem,” Holbrook said.
A large number of Telkom customers from around the province expressed outrage with the disruptions, posting complaints on Telkom’s down detector page.
Yesterday afternoon police spokesman Captain Nkosikho Mzuku said no cable thefts had been reported to police. — firstname.lastname@example.org/ email@example.com