Anger at Thermopower case delay

2011-01-25 15:46

Olifantsfontein residents expressed anger and disappointment that the criminal trial against a company operating a toxic waste incinerator in their area was postponed to May.

“No one is communicating to us, but [we] heard that it was postponed due to [the] illness of Thermopower [Process Technology]’s advocate,” community leader Kgomotso Modiselle said.

Thermopower, whose director Christos Eleftheriades is listed as the sole accused on the charge sheet, faces nine criminal charges related to alleged breaches of environmental laws.

The trial date was initially set for yesterday and today in the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court, but was postponed to May 30.
Modiselle said residents intended writing to the court’s senior public prosecutor to express their disappointment and press for an earlier trial date.

“The community has waited patiently enough for the criminal matter to be finally heard and now [they are] furious that the court took a decision to postpone it,” Modiselle said.

Eleftheriades denied claims his company broke environmental laws when disposing of chemical and medical waste.

This was supported by the fact that the company had its operating licence renewed by the Gauteng department of agriculture, conservation and environment in June 2010.

He said the company was now being taken to court by the department for a non-compliance issue recorded in 2006, but would defend itself.

“We say no, we are fully compliant. We have received the latest permit for June 2010, which means the department is happy with us.”

Eleftheriades said the court case had nothing to do with the Olifantsfontein residents, an impression created by their demonstration on Monday.

He said the company had received complaints about its operation.

“We receive them from everybody, but there are proper channels to complain and demonstrating outside the company is not it. They [residents] also need to have scientific proof of how the company’s operations affect them.”

Outside the court yesterday residents sang struggle songs and held up placards asking if ANCYL president “Julius Malema is concentrating on Thermopower”. They alleged the dioxins the company released into the air caused cancer and affected human growth and development.

In July last year City Press reported that Malema was a business partner of Eleftheriades.

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