Protesting for clean, clear air

2017-02-07 06:01
 Photo: supplied Residents came out in their numbers to support the protest.

Photo: supplied Residents came out in their numbers to support the protest.

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UPPER Highway residents gathered in their numbers on Saturday protesting for the closure of the EnviroServ landfill site in Shongweni, which they claim is the cause of many getting sick.

The protest named the “Toxic Trek” ended with a memorandum being handed to a representative of the company.

Banners were held up some of which read, “We demand free air”, “Stop the air pollution, we are getting sick”, “EnviroServ needs to be shut down”.

According to the community they have had enough.
“We are fed up that our pleas are not being heard. The community is suffering, and the stench is unbearable.

“We are now physically sick from the smell. Something needs to be done before a fatality occurs,” said an angry protestor.

Upper Highway Air NPO director Lauren Johnson, read the memorandum before handing it over, which said: “We believe that EnviroServ is ignoring our constitutional rights and the increased incidence of illnesses apparently related to the foul odour, not to mention the psychological effects [of] living in the stench of a toxic landfill is having on us.”

The memorandum listed 15 demands, including the capping, closure and rehabilitation of the Shongweni­ landfill site, the termination of any expansion plans for the site, medical compensation for residents, air purifiers­ to be made available to local health clinics, and that the company’s CEO “stop misleading his clients and the community”.

EnviroServ’s KwaZulu-Natal manager, Dheena Govender, accepted the memorandum on behalf of the company, but did not comment on the matter.

However, following the protest the Department of Environmental Affairs issued a notice of intention to suspend and/or revoke EnviroServ’s Waste Management Licence for its Shongweni landfill operation site in eThekwini.

According to the notice, despite many interventions implemented by EnviroServ to comply with the instructions­ contained in the Compliance Notice, there is still an unacceptably high level of landfill gases being emitted from the Shongweni landfill site, which the authorities have confirmed to be the cause of many of the communities’ complaints.

EnviroServ has four calendar days from receipt of the notification - from Saturday - to make representations as to why the waste management licence should not be suspended and/or revoked.

- An earlier online version of this story displayed the incorrect byline. The information in the story is supplied and written by Desiree Erasmus. The Hillcrest Fever apologises for this error.

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