The civil rights organisation AfriForum submitted criminal charges against Dithabe Nkoane, Municipal Manager of the Emfuleni Local Municipality in the Vaal Triangle, on 7 November 2018. These charges oppose the poor municipal management and pollution of water sources.
After various complaints were received from the community about sewage flowing down the streets, manholes overflowing and bloody water at the abattoir flowing into streets, wetlands and streams, AfriForum decided to become involved. The charge was submitted in terms of Section 151 of the National Water Act, 1998 (Act No. 36 of 1998), which states that any person who intentionally pollutes water and water sources must be held accountable.
Section 24(a) of the Constitution states that everyone is entitled to an environment that takes their health and wellbeing into consideration and that the environment must also be protected for future generations. According to Dewet Ungerer, AfriForum’s Assistant Coordinator for Gauteng South, this is however not the case in the Vaal Triangle. “Manholes are overflowing and sewage is flowing down the streets, which means that people have to move through it. In addition, the Vaal River is being polluted daily with megalitres of untreated sewage. This is in direct contradiction with Section 24(a) of the Constitution,” says Ungerer.
Ungerer adds that poor municipal management and maintenance is the cause for the pollution and that guilty parties must be held accountable for this. “The municipality is supposed to utilise our tax money to maintain sewage works, upgrade it where needed and to ensure that untreated sewage does not pollute the environment. Funds must be utilised to prevent incidents such as this. The municipality is neglecting to fulfil its duties and therefore it is our responsibility as the community to call them to account,” Ungerer concludes.
AfriForum will follow up on the case with the South African Police Service to ensure that the problem is rectified.
Issued by AfriForum