Exactly 1 386 days have passed since the Democratic Alliance (DA) first opened a case on 10 July 2019 against the Chris Hani District Municipality’s then Municipal Manager, Dr Bhekisisa Methembu, for failing to act on raw sewage flowing into the Fish River and surrounding fresh water sources and the SAPS has apparently done nothing.
Nearly four years later the problems persist, with collapsed infrastructure resulting in ongoing sewage spills flowing through streets and into at least eight different fresh river sources. Still, no action appears to have been taken, and those responsible are not being held to account.
This poses a massive health risk to people, produce and animals. Why must the communities live under a potential death sentence?
I have now escalated the matter to the DA’s Shadow Minister of Police, Andrew Whitfield MP, who will take up the apparent lack of action with Police Minister Bheki Cele.
We will also be engaging with the Green Scorpions, who were informed about the ongoing environmental crisis as far back as June 2019, and who have also apparently failed to take action.
On 24 September 2021, I opened a case in terms of section 151 of the National Water Act for failure to adhere to non-compliance notice in terms of pollution; and failure to act in terms of directives issued by the National Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS). According to the Act this is an offense that could result in a fine and/or imprisonment.
At the time, we were informed by SAPS that the two previous cases that had been opened against the CHDM would be amalgamated into the new case. That was the last correspondence we received on the matter.
Subsequently, Dr Methembu has been replaced by Gcobani Mashiyi as MM, and still no action is being taken.
The discharge of raw sewage into the river, an issue that has been ongoing for years, could result in the water becoming so contaminated that it will no longer be fit for use as an irrigation source for farmers. This also poses a massive health and environmental risk to local communities.
The DA is committed to fighting for a clean and healthy environment to ensure people are not poisoned by failing infrastructure.