Ecological disaster imminent – DA calls for urgent intervention

Bosman Grobler MPL

Spokesperson for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

Millions of litres of raw sewage have been spewing from manholes in Ermelo and Wesselton, located in Msukaligwa Local Municipality, polluting a wetland and putting residents’ health at risk in the process.

The DA did a site visit after the issue appeared in news reports earlier this week and discovered three major sewage spills erupting from municipal manholes.

One of the spillages, located in the Ermelo Town area, spills directly into a wetland and is a cause of great concern.  The two other spills are located in Wesselton, one at Emadameni and the other at Klipbou, and have evidently been spewing raw sewage for several days or even weeks.

Upon closer inspection of the manholes, which are all connected to the main sewerage line, it was revealed that the manhole covers had apparently popped off from the manholes due to the immense pressure of the gushing waste.  It may even be that municipal workers removed the covers on purpose to allow the sewage to spill, lessening the pressure on the sewerage system.

The overpowering and suffocating smell of raw human waste is enhanced by vast amounts of baby nappies, condoms and other materials that are flowing from the drain. This debris is being released into the open air and into a stream which connects with a nearby river, joining into the Vaal River, which in turn flows to Grootdraai Dam near Standerton.

While on site, the DA engaged with Ms Maria Shabangu from Emadameni who has been living in these deploring conditions with spillage erupting right next to her yard and in front of her house.  The matter was reported to the Ward Councillor by residents, but no apparent corrective measures to unblock the drain have been made by the municipality.

The DA is extremely concerned that a government which boasts about creating a better life for all exposes citizens to such a health risk.  The potential for an outbreak of devastating gastro intestinal infections is increasing by the hour. The DA will write to the MEC of Co-Operative Governance, Refilwe Mtsweni, and request her to intervene as a matter of urgency

  1. To ensure that the risk of an outbreak is minimised.
  2. To intervene in the Msukaligwa Local Municipality’s operations to repair the municipal sewerage system.
  3. To ensure that the sewerage network is kept intact and to minimise the pollution of the wetland and risk for an outbreak of a disease.

The DA will keep track of the developments and keep putting pressure on the MEC to take this matter seriously.