Thomas Walters, DA MPL
DA Gauteng Spokesperson for Agriculture and Environment
Urgent action is necessary to prevent the decay of water quality in Gauteng to the levels seen in Carolina in Mpumalanga. The DA will pursue public hearings through the Gauteng Provincial Legislature to investigate and address the quality of waterways in the province.
A report released by the City of Johannesburg’s department of infrastructure services and environment included results with shocking implications for the long-term environmental health of the metro. Of particular concern was the fact that poor communities live close to dangerously polluted waterways.
The DA believes that this problem is not unique to Johannesburg. Similar complaints exist regarding the Blesbokspruit in Ekurhuleni, as well as the Hennopsriver in Tshwane. Previous calls by the Gauteng Provincial Legislature’s Agriculture and Rural Development committee for municipalities to engage on the issue have not been taken seriously. It is therefore necessary that stronger action is taken in the form of a public hearing process to force stakeholders to engage on the subject.
Municipalities have allowed their water and sanitation infrastructures to decay, maintenance systems to collapse and environmental law enforcement against polluters is poor. Only massive public pressure, expressed through such a public hearing process will galvanise the necessary maintenance and law-enforcement to take place. The alternative is for residents to seek recourse through the courts to force municipalities to fulfil one of their basic constitutional responsibilities of providing clean drinking water. The North Gauteng judgement in the Carolina matter sets a significant precedent in this regard.
The legislature and councils across the province must take the necessary steps to prevent a Carolina-type water crisis in Gauteng.