High court orders municipality to stop raw sewerage spills

The high court in Mpumalanga has made an order that a local municipality must urgently take remedial steps to stop the raw sewerage spills.

The court ruled that the Nkomazi municipality should immediately fix the causes of the spillages, remedy the effects of the pollution caused, and rehabilitate the affected areas.

It ordered that the Ehlanzeni municipality, the Nkomazi municipality, and the Nkomazi municipal manager submit a report within 21 days from the date of the court order to the registrar of the court outlining the steps they have taken to stop the raw sewerage spills.

Judge Lindiwe Vukeya issued the order recently after the Komatipoort Despondent Residents Association submitted an application asking the court to order that there are water shortages and sewage spillages flowing in the town of Komatipoort and surrounding areas.

Health hazard to wildlife

The sewage spills into the Crocodile River, which flows along the southern boundary of Kruger National Park, thereby causing a health hazard to communities and wildlife.

The court ruled in favour of this application and stated that the Nkomazi local municipality is in breach of its constitutional obligation to prevent contamination of the environment by allowing raw sewerage spills.

The application was brought against the Nkomazi local municipality, the municipality’s municipal manager, and the executive mayor of Ehlanzeni district municipality, among others.

According to its court application, drafted by its chairperson, Lene Roux, the association is a voluntary organisation that consists of paying consumers mainly from the town of Komatipoort. It has about 50 members.

The court agreed with the residents association that raw sewerage works at Komatipoort and at the places of spillage, namely “the Transnet building, Hotchkiss Street at the circle by Engen garage, 2 Louw Street, Spar complex, the sewage pump at the corner of Krokodil and Hartbees Streets, 2 Gilfillian Street, and the sewerage plant in Krokodil Street are flowing into and contaminating the Crocodile River”.

Nkomazi to pay costs of the application

“The municipal manager of the Nkomazi local municipality is ordered to ensure that the spillage of raw sewerage into the Crocodile River be cleared up within 21 calendar days from the date of this order; the municipal manager is ordered to ensure that the Nkomazi local municipality take all necessary steps to ensure that raw sewage is not discharged into the Crocodile River or onto land surrounding the respective sewerage works at Komatipoort, and that spillage of raw sewage be resolved at the areas described in paragraph 50.1 of this order,” ruled Vukeya.

The court also ordered that the municipal manager take immediate steps to ensure that the municipality complies with its constitutional obligations to provide potable water on a daily basis to the citizens within its resort.

“The municipal manager is ordered to file a report with the registrar of this court 21 calendar days from the date of this court order on steps taken to resolve the spillage of raw sewage, the prevention of similar incidents in the near future, and the sustainable provision of potable water to all citizens in the resort of the municipality.”

The court ordered the Nkomazi municipality to pay the costs of the application.

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