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Pretoria – In the ongoing campaign to clean up and rebuild infrastructure, the vandalised Alex FM in Johannesburg has received a R2 million boost from the National Lotteries Commission (NLC).
In the midst of widespread looting and vandalism of businesses in KwaZulu-Natal and Johannesburg, the community radio station also fell victim as rioters broke into its premises, vandalising and looting equipment with an estimated value of R5 million.
For the first time, the community station that has been in operation for 27 years went off air.
“The National Lotteries Commission has handed over aid to Alex FM in an effort to assist one of Gauteng’s oldest community stations get back on track,” said NLC spokesperson Ndivhuho Mafela.
“Alex FM, which has been described as the pulse of the sprawling township, was not left untouched when civil unrest broke out in Gauteng in early July, and the Pan African Mall was damaged and looted. The loss of broadcast equipment, computers and other assets saw Alex FM silenced for a period. They are currently broadcasting from an alternative venue.”
Mafela said the NLC’s proactive funding of R2 million is intended to purchase equipment to fast track the station’s efforts towards full operation and providing information, education and entertainment programming to the people of Alexandra and beyond.ves a critical role
Established by the Alexandra Community Trust in 1994, the iconic station serves a critical role “in entrenching the diversity of cultures in community-building initiatives and is a key portal of providing accessibility of services to the community”, according to the NLC.
Last week, board chairperson of Alex FM, Isaac Mangena said the vandalising and looting of Alex FM’s studio has deprived community members of information, particularly around the raging Covid-19 pandemic.
“This is a sad day for the people of Alexandra as their only source of information Alex FM has been muted by hooligans. It’s an attack on the media which started when SABC cameras were stolen in the township over the weekend,” said Mangena.
“This means the residents of Alexandra will not have a source to inform them about the very same riots happening and other important news, how to stay safe from the criminals, roads that are dangerous to drive on.”
Mangena said, most importantly, the station was the source of information during Covid 19, “when every citizens needs to be reminded of the dangers of this pandemic through Alex FM, sites where vaccinations for the pensioners, abomkhulu nabo gogo (grandfathers and grandmothers) are, and on how to protect each other from the scourge”.
African News Agency (ANA)