Ministers face charges over pollution

2010-05-07 15:25

Pretoria - Criminal charges were laid against three Cabinet ministers at the Brooklyn police station in Pretoria on Friday for their alleged pollution of the country's water supply.

After laying the charges, Transvaal Agricultural Union of SA (TAU SA) chairperson Louis Meintjes said the organisation was forced to approach the police after Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson, Mining Minister Susan Shabangu, and Water Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica repeatedly failed to address the problem.

"We want them to act and get the water clean... a snowball that gets too big is a runaway snowball," he said.

Meintjes said mines, which use 7% of the country's water supply, were responsible for 75% of water pollution.

He said Sonjica should have acted in line with the National Water Act and that Shabangu should have known that mining, water supply and food security were directly linked.

In its allegations against the three, TAU SA lists more than 70 mines that have been operating without water licences and contravening the act.

"You can't play with the future of the 53 million people of South Africa.... We won't have food on our tables if we let this happen."

He said the act provided that it was criminal for ministers to knowingly or unintentionally allow for natural resources to be jeopardised.

"If it's not the ministers, who is responsible?" he asked.