Renewed Duzi health fears

2008-01-08 00:00

THE South African under 23 and junior canoe squads were pulled off the Umsundusi River by their coach just three minutes into a training session yesterday after a deluge of rubbish washed through their training area opposite Maritzburg College.

A fuming Dusi Canoe Club member phoned The Witness, saying he has never seen so much rubbish in the river.

Umgeni Water spokesman Shami Harichunder said the rubbish was washed down by rain in the last two days.

“When it rains, pollutants wash down the river from catchment areas,” he said.

Hansa Powerade Dusi organising committee spokesman Ray de Vries said the SA coach could not risk the health of his team. Dead animals, bottles, buckets and household waste were included in the rubbish flowing down the river.

He added that he has received e-mails from international entrants inquiring about the water contamination following recent extensive media coverage.

“International athletes have been inquiring about necessary inoculations to take before coming to South Africa,” he said.

“We have to be totally transparent about this. The municipality, together with the relevant authorities, needs to be part of a plan of action after this year’s race, if we are to host the Dusi again next year,” he said.

Random water sampling of the river will continue right up until the start of the Dusi Canoe Marathon, following recent extremely high levels of E.coli contamination, caused by human waste.

Harichunder said water samples were taken yesterday and the frequency of sampling will be increased in areas like Camps Drift, where the race starts. Water quality results are expected today.

“An indication of what will come through will be from catchment areas, particularly Edendale,” Harichunder said.

He said the Msunduzi Municipality has acted on information relayed to it concerning tests that have already been carried out.

However, ANC MPL Zibuse Mlaba said no health warnings have been received by people living along the river, nor were they informed that the water was contaminated.

Mlaba said they were alerted by media reports.

“Communitieses use the water for drinking, cooking, washing and for their animals — especially in areas where there is no proper water and sanitation facilities,” he said.

KZN Health Department spokesman Leon Mbangwa said there have been no reports of patients admitted to hospitals with illnesses caused by E.coli contamination.

Lin Gravelet-Blondin from the Water Affairs and Forestry Department said yesterday that drinking the water would have a much swifter effect on a person than secondary contact like swimming or paddling.

He confirmed that samples are being taken on a continual basis and that results are changing “day by day”, but getting worse when it rains and sewers are flooded.

Regarding the fluctuating E.coli levels, Gravelet-Blondin explained that the bacteria are killed off by the sun.

The Dusi marathon is set for January 17, 18 and 19.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.