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Sanral back to normal after 'powder scare'

Sanral is functioning normally this morning after an anthrax scare yesterday.

Sanral is functioning normally this morning after an anthrax scare yesterday. Picture: Barry Bateman/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) says the white powder which caused an evacuation at its operations centre turned out to be completely harmless.

An investigation is currently underway into who was responsible for what the agency has described as an 'act of sabotage'.

Chief Executive Officer Nazir Alli says those caught up in the scare have received trauma counselling for the anxiety they experienced.

While Alli describes the powder as harmless, he gives no indication of what it was.

Sanral now says its gantries and the toll collection process were not compromised, but its call centre was offline for some time.

Questions have been asked about Sanral's ability to handle unexpected shutdowns and back-up all of its information.

BACK TO NORMAL

Electronic Tolling Collection says the operations centre is at full capacity and working as normal this morning.

Officials have ruled out anthrax as the white powder which was sent to the roads agency's offices, disrupting its services.

At least 20 employees were decontaminated and taken to hospital as a safety precaution.

The e-toll system was disrupted after employees were evacuated.

Sniffer dogs were at the scene, but police haven't verified what the powder is as yet.

Sanral's Vusi Mona says they are taking the matter very seriously.

Meanwhile, the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) has urged the public not to overreact following Tuesday's incident.

Outa says it cannot condone Tuesday's incident, saying that people should not resort to stupid methods to express their complaints about Sanral and e-tolling.

Outa's John Clarke says the public must use democratic means to fight the system.

"There are people with a very malicious agenda who are wanting to basically undermine and disrupt South Africa's democratisation process."

Forensic experts are still working to establish exactly what the substance is.

Justice Project South Africa's Howard Dembovsky says although an anthrax scare is serious, it's alarming that one incident managed to shut down the system.

"Given the fact that South Africans have been expected to pay for e-tolls it's surprising to hear that there's no redundancy."