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Final Report of the Gauteng Provincial Inquiry Into the Sewage Problem of the Vaal River

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Final Report of the Gauteng Provincial Inquiry Into the Sewage Problem of the Vaal River

17th February 2021

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  • Final Report of the Gauteng Provincial Inquiry Into the Sewage Problem of the Vaal River
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The South African Human Rights Commission (‘the Commission’) had been alerted to online and print media reports, published during July and August 2018, reporting that raw sewage,from the Emfuleni Local Municipality (‘the Municipality’)’s Rietspruit Waste Water Care and Management Works situated in Vanderbijlpark, the Leewkuil Waste Water Care and Management Works situated in Vereeniging and other areas within the Municipality, had for weeks and months been leaking into and polluting the Vaal River and the Rietspruit.

In addition to the raw sewage polluting major and essential bodies of water, the media reports stated, amongst other things, that: the main sewers in Vanderbijlpark were blocked and that raw sewerage was flowing into people’s yards and properties. In September 2018, in order to test the veracity of the media reports, the Commission’s Gauteng Provincial Office conducted an inspection-in-loco at certain sites within the Emfuleni Municipality, and observed: raw sewage flowing in a small stream that cut across the Emfuleni Golf Estate; two burst sewerage pipes on the banks of the Rietspruit that runs through the Emfuleni Municipal area; defective bio-filters at the Rietspruit Waste Water Treatment Works; a clogged sewerage manhole at the Sharpeville Cemetery and children swimming in, and consuming, polluted waters in the area of a school.

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Having established a prima facieviolation of human rights in the Emfuleni Municipality, regarding the flowing of raw, untreated sewage flowing in the streets, homes, graveyards and also flowing into the Vaal River, the Dam, the Barrage and the Rietspruit (referred to collectively as ‘the Vaal’), and acting within its legislative mandate, the Commission established an Inquiry.

Report by the Human Rights Commission

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