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Municipality fined R10m for not managing untreated wastewater

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AfriForum Chairperson Matiam van Vuuren laid criminal charges in 2016 against suspended Rand West Local Municipality Municipal Manager Themba Goba. The charges were in terms of the National Environmental Act for sewage pollution.

Municipal Manager pleads guilty

On Tuesday, 17 May, Goba pleaded guilty as the representative of the municipality in terms of a plea agreement to complaints of pollution. The plea agreement was upheld by Magistrate Vivian Hawkins in the Randfontein Regional Court.

The sentence brought forward entails a fine of R10 million. R7 million of this has been suspended for five years. The suspension is provided that the West Rand Local Municipality meets certain conditions from the plea agreement.

What is in the plea agreement?

The terms of the municipality’s agreement include the following:

The fine of R3 million must be spent on repairs;That evidence of this repair be sent to the DWS;The appointment of qualified and experienced process controllers as prescribed by regulations;Millers and electromechanical technicians must be appointed to ensure proper maintenance of the works;Adequate monitoring of the outflow to ensure compliance;That there is proper reporting to the DWS;That 10% of all municipal infrastructure grants be fenced off to maintain the works.

AfriForum welcomes the ruling

AfriForum has welcomed the ruling and referred to it as a huge victory for the Randfontein branch.

“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. We are confident that this success will open doors for other communities to also hold their municipalities criminally responsible for pollution due to defective sewage works,”

said Van Vuuren.

AfriForum laid a criminal charge for sewage pollution in 2016. Photo: @afriforum / Twitter

Manager of Local Government Affairs at AfriForum Morné Mostert the victory is the first success with such complaints. Mostert says the victory must be seen in the context of Minister of Water and Sanitation Senzo Mchunu’s green drop report.

“This ruling and the process that has been followed to make this a reality is part of our strategy to hold municipalities and more specifically municipal managers accountable to ensure that there are consequences for the mismanagement that currently prevails in many municipalities,” said Mostert.

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