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Rand Water beefs up security - 'we don't know who's next'

Plans made to protect staff after fatal shooting

Jeanette Chabalala Senior Reporter
Rand Water chief shared services officer Teboho Joala was shot and killed at a school event.
Rand Water chief shared services officer Teboho Joala was shot and killed at a school event.

The murder of Rand Water executive Teboho Joala has sparked fears at the bulk water provider's offices, with management rushing to beef up security for its employees in strategic positions.

Chairperson of Rand Water's board Ramateu Monyokolo told Sowetan that Monday's mysterious attack on Joala has caused anxiety and that plans had been made swiftly to protect people in strategic positions at the company. He said a team would be doing a security assessment that would guide them on other potential threats.

"Nobody knows who is next – for now we will remain vigilant and be cautious wherever we go and in whatever we do [ and] just to keep looking over our shoulders. You wouldn't have expected somebody to shoot at people in front of kids but because it happened you just have to be careful.

"It is either you stay at home and hope the house is more secure but there is no guarantee, so you are never safe anywhere," said Monyokolo.

Joala, a chief shared services officer at Rand Water, was gunned down during a back-to-school event organised by the entity at Zakariyya Park, south of Johannesburg, on Monday. He and his protector died after a group of men entered a hall where he was handing over school uniforms and shoes to 1,670 pupils from different schools.

City of Johannesburg chief whip Sithembiso Zungu was among the wounded and is recovering in hospital. 

Monyokolo said to his knowledge, nobody from the water utility has ever got death threats because of the work they do. 

Last year Rand Water, the largest water utility in Africa, started a new business model aimed at taking over the distribution of water from municipalities struggling to get water to households. One of the first partnerships was with the Emfuleni municipality in the Vaal. 

Asked why the executives needed bodyguards, Monyokolo said it was based on a security assessment that was done.

"Security assessments are done in any organisation at any given point in time and especially in an organisation that deals with projects and interacts with the community all the time. So, we do security assessments internally and externally and every deployment is preceded by a security assessment.

"The same way that after this incident operationally they will also do further analysis and look at what other action should they take for executives, but also for buildings – remember that Rand Water is a national keypoint."

According to Rand Water's spokesperson Makenosi Maroo, its executives only started having bodyguards less than a year ago. Maroo said she did not know what brought about the decision.

Joala joined the entity as general manager for communications and stakeholder management in 2019 and was appointed chief shared services officer in July 2021.

Monyokolo and Rand Water's chief executive Sipho Masai were initially scheduled to attend the school event where Joala was killed. However, on Sunday night, a decision was made to attend a meeting with the minister of water and sanitation, Senzo Mchunu, in Kempton Park.

Monyokolo said Mchunu had called a meeting to discuss the working relationship infrastructure issues in Tshwane and Joburg.  

"We said let's rather go to the minister's meeting. That decision was taken on Sunday night. On Monday when I was on my way to the minister, that is when we got the news," he said.

He said they then informed Joala's family who later visited the scene.

Monyokolo said the incident was still sketchy and he did not want to speculate on what could have led to the fatal shooting.

"It is difficult to make any sense of it, we don't have further information. It is difficult to process, and the family is distraught and the whole organisation is distraught. We are shocked.

"You never know how the universe communicates. We don't understand how the universe communicates with us, so we overthink sometimes, but we are being guided to avoid certain situations. We are shocked, it is a shocking thing."

Monyokolo said the entity, through its wellness programme, was providing support for the staff who were at the school function.


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