AfriForum has won another legal battle after the Rand West municipality in Gauteng pleaded guilty to charges of contravening the National Environmental Act.
Matiam van Vuuren, AfriForum’s chairperson of the Randfontein branch, laid the criminal charges in 2016 for sewage pollution against suspended municipal manager Themba Goba, after the municipality discharged partially untreated water into a river.
In a statement on Tuesday, AfriForum said: “Themba Goba, the municipal manager of the Rand West City local municipality, who is currently suspended, today as the representative of the municipality pleaded guilty in terms of a plea agreement to complaints of pollution in terms of the National Environmental Act. Magistrate Vivian Hawkins ratified the plea agreement in the Randfontein regional court.”
The municipality has been slapped with a hefty fine of R10-million, of which only R3-million is payable. The remainder of the fine is suspended for five years provided that the municipality complies with certain conditions in terms of the plea agreement.
“AfriForum has been fighting this battle relentlessly since 2016 and today’s ruling is a huge victory for us as the Randfontein branch, as well as for the community,” said Van Vuuren.
“We are confident that this success will open the doors for other communities to also hold their municipalities criminally responsible for pollution due to defective sewage works.”
AfriForum said it would continue to fulfil its watchdog role to ensure the constitutional principles of a “clean environment and that the guilty parties are held accountable”.
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