By Elza van Lingen MP, DA National Council of Province Member for the Eastern Cape:
Yesterday the Democratic Alliance laid criminal charges (CAS 185/08/2015) with the South African Police Service (SAPS) against the Kouga municipal manager, Mr Sydney Fadi, for failing to act against the dysfunction of the Humansdrop Waste Water Treatment plant. The plant that has resulted in potential health risks to the people of this area whilst polluting the surrounding environment.
Criminal charges have been laid in terms of National Water Act 36 of 1998 sec 151(1)(j) and (2) as well as the contravention of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) 1998 sec49(A)(1)(e) and (f).
The Humansdorp waste water treatment works has been dysfunctional for months and the quality of the discharge into the natural resources below the property is questionable.
Since December, 2014 the DA has lodged various complaints to the Kouga Municipality and the Provincial Department of Water Affairs about the poor conditions at the plant, the horrendous smells of a dysfunctional plant and the fact that people illegally live within 500 meters of the unit proving dangerous to their health. The plant is not fenced off with cause for negligent liability as prescribed in law. There is also pollution through the discharge of water (below) from the plant right into an earth dam below the plant. The DA understands that the Department of Water Affairs has since issued a Certificate of Noncompliance to Kouga Municipality.
The plant is situated outside Humansdorp on the R330, directly adjacent to Polla Park, Shukushukuma (KwaNozamo) and Vergenoegd where residents directly experience the consequences of poor management of the plant. The access road to Vergenoegd from the R330 runs directly below the plant and the discharge from the plant runs along the side of the road, not always through the culvert to the dam. This has hampered pedestrian traffic – as they have to pass through sewer contaminated pools or a long detour through KwaNomzamo.
In April 2015, the matter was again raised with Kouga Municipality and the Department of Water Affairs. Officials from the Department of Water Affairs inspected the plant at the end of May this year. This included taking samples of water in the plant as well as discharge in various places to test and analyse it for a complete laboratory and compliance report. It has been relayed to us that the Department addressed the problems at the plant with Kouga Municipality. The DA has requested this report.
Considering, conditions have not improved at the Humansdorp plant since the DA’s initial complaint in December 2014, we have sent another letter of complaint to the municipal manager Mr Fadi for attention earlier this week.
The DA has addressed the matter at local government level, we raised it with the provincial department of water affairs and we asked questions in parliament. The issue was also raised in the portfolio committee for water and sanitation in National Parliament. It is clear that we have exhausted all possible options to rectify the situation. The last resort was to lay criminal charges as these conditions cannot continue.
The DA will hold anyone accountable who mismanage basic services and allow for poor service delivery. We will also not sit idly as our communities and environment are being polluted – threatening the health of our people.