AS TOLD TO
Four community radio stations were attacked and looted in Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal this week. The ongoing #ShutdownSA protest targeted Mams Radio in Mamelodi, West Side FM in Kagiso, Intokozo FM in Durban and AlexFM in Alexandra. At AlexFM, which was ransacked on July 13, the looted equipment is estimated to be worth R5-million. We spoke to AlexFM station manager, Takalani Nemangoe on what happened and the way forward.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, July 13, criminals masquerading as protestors looted the station. They took everything that we had. Everything that we accumulated over a period of 27 years. We are a community radio station so we are not well-funded. It took us time to get where we were. We had state-of-the-art equipment and it was all looted. They cleaned out the space. The saddest part is that they took away the voice of the community.
The community of Alexandra does not have a platform of engagement where they can hold the government accountable. Alexandra was silenced yesterday morning. We are very disappointed in the law enforcement agencies. This could have been avoided. Their lack of visibility in the vicinity was glaring. They were not quick enough to react to criminal behaviour.
This was an act of criminals who took advantage of the protest action. We are back on air. We are receiving so much help right now. It is overwhelming but pleasant to get pledges of assistance. We are currently broadcasting out of LM radio in Rivonia, Sandton until we can get back on our feet..
We worked overnight to be back on air so that the people of Alexandra can get the information and education we have been giving them. We cannot succumb to a group of criminals, or wait for law enforcement to bring them to book.
It will take a lot of fundraising. Studio equipment is very expensive. The cost of the loss is around five million rand. We are appealing to everyone who can help to please assist us.
We will be based at LM radio for the time being. Right now we are still deciding when we will be going back to Alexandra. The Alex FM staff are young people who have kept their morale up. They are passionate and hopeful, and their spirits are very high now with being back on air. They have been revived by all the help coming in. Alexandra needs its voice now more than ever.
The interview was edited for brevity and clarity.