SA shores swimming with sewage - official

2012-06-08 22:10

Cape Town - South Africa's seas are swimming with sewage, Deputy Environmental Affairs Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi revealed on Friday.

"South Africans are known to discharge over 300 million litres of sewage every day into the marine environment, much of which is untreated or partially treated, and thus posing a serious threat to marine habitats, species and the public."

She was speaking at an event in East London to mark World Oceans Day.

The figure of 300 million litres was later confirmed by the minister's spokesperosn, Peter Mbelengwa.

Mabudafhasi said in a speech prepared for delivery that the volume of this sewage pollution was "increasing significantly", and the country had to find a better way of managing the problem.

"Over the past few decades, scientists around the world have observed the appearance of so-called ‘dead zones’ in the ocean, where the levels of oxygen are so low that marine life cannot be supported."

Such dead zones were caused by, among other things, the excessive nutrients in sewage.

"We do not want these areas to appear in [the oceans of] South Africa and therefore we must find better ways of managing our waste."

Mabudafhasi said she had attended a United Nations inter-governmental conference earlier this year, where discussions were held on the action needed to tackle the causes of poor coastal water quality.

"At that particular meeting, which was attended by 65 countries, it was unanimously agreed that we should step up our efforts to tackle the damaging effects of sewage, marine litter and nutrients on our oceans."

South Africa had 3 000km of coastline, with hundreds of beaches set aside for the public’s enjoyment and recreation.

"Our beaches are much sought-after by both South Africans and international visitors and are a major economic driver in the country’s ever-growing tourism industry.

"As a country therefore, we [have] much to lose if we do not ensure that our beach waters are protected from pollution, because ultimately that pollution will affect us and our economy," she said.

  • ThaboShakuNews24 - 2012-06-08 22:52

    The figure of 300 million litres is shocking but what is even more shocking is what is government doing about these environmental criminals!!

      Stewart - 2012-06-09 06:04

      They are the enviromental crimnals.

      oscar.vanriel - 2012-06-09 06:16

      "we must find better ways of managing our waste" can start by making sure that the pumps at sewage plants are working. But then again as with everything ANC, a lot of talk but no execution.

      Graham.Cooper2 - 2012-06-09 07:56

      Thabo it is the Govt themselves allowing this to happen just plain poor management. They have more funds available to missuse if the efluent plants do not have to run so more for themselves.

      goyougoodthing - 2012-06-09 08:07

      "South Africans are discharging" um no, government is... we have no control over where our waste goes.

      dennis.vermaak.5 - 2012-06-09 09:24

      So because I blame the ANC directly for this my comments get deleted ??? VIVA DEMOCRACY !!

      goyougoodthing - 2012-06-09 10:42

      Thats how it rolls

      Jacqui - 2012-06-10 11:27

      They are the environmental criminals. Look at what is floating in the rivers because sewerage stations are broken and not fixed. Farmers using river water to irrigate their lands and our food are doing it with water filled with human waste. What is the Minister of Environment doing about it?. Just as little as for the rhino. What change do you think the oceasn have?.

      louis.olivier.988 - 2012-06-10 12:32

      300 millions of Sh.t from a Sh.t country

      Preshen - 2012-06-11 09:36

      “Rolling in the deep”

  • michael.i.wright - 2012-06-08 23:41

    Better hope there isn't a tsunami.

  • herman.brummer - 2012-06-09 00:18

    Shocking, indeed!

  • fred.fraser.12 - 2012-06-09 00:30

    We have the money. We should fix this. It's not difficult and it would create jobs.

      Chris - 2012-06-09 05:33

      it is called education

      SidewaysView - 2012-06-09 07:12

      Come on Stewart - if you want to make a convincing argument - at least stick to the relevant issues here. What the hell does this have to do with BEE or affirmative action? Do you honestly believe we were not polluting our shores pre 1994? Using racial epithets diminishes you argument and makes you look like a moron

      TheBlackRaptor - 2012-06-09 08:51

      Let's start by changing the beaches names, or even better, let's have a R100 million party and invite all inland countries presidents and their assistants.

      Jacqui - 2012-06-10 11:33

      Sideways, you are right there has always been pollution, Thne difference is before 1994 sewerage works were well maintained and all the pumps worked. Now incompetent people are manning munnicipalities and they don't know what to do. Give them the resources and the training and they can do the job as well as anyone else. But where is the help they need?. Where are the competent ministers whose duty it is to make all this possible?.

  • Shaun - 2012-06-09 06:14

    Well we can all sit here and blame Government but in the bigger scheme of things over population of the Planet is why we are seeing these shocking statistics. We as a species are heading into a dangerous period of our existance which our World leaders / elders are not telling us about.

      goyougoodthing - 2012-06-09 09:07

      DOn't wait for leaders mate, make you own destiny.

  • Danie - 2012-06-09 06:49

    Sorry non ANC supporters, but pumping raw sewerage in the sea started long before 1994 In CT alone we had the huge green point line as well as equally large diameter Houtbay line, I know EL to a large extend dispose of their sewerage offshore. We all need to save Africas water, ny reducing your sewerage volumes, grey water should not be polluted by black water and should be evapotranspire to the atmosphere. look at by 1 Oct to study the results of my home experimentation to evapotranspire all my property waste water, as clean water vapour. Without leaking one drop in the ground water. Each and every South African producing waste water is as quilty as the ANC government. Evapotranspire your own grey water, and reduce your black water now. Contact me by FB for details

      John - 2012-06-09 07:07

      Punting for business? Jy is n drol in ons drinkwater!

      Thando Tdoz Kubheka - 2012-06-09 10:11

      Thank you Danie for coming up with a solution instead of pointing finger you have my respect

      billy.bunter.779 - 2012-06-09 11:19

      @Danie - some good points made, but citizens have the right to produce waste water, in the same way as they have the right to produce garbage. It is a natural part of the urban cycle. However, it is GOVT'S obligation (ANC or otherwise) to properly dispose of it. Citizens cannot be guilty of anything as long as thye are using the urban infrastructure to dispose of it. Our taxes are used for this purpose - however, it is the lack of infrastructure maintenance, caused by incompetence and corruption, that leads to raw sewage going out to sea.

      Pat - 2012-06-10 02:36

      @billy, great point!! thats why we pay tax!!! i wouldnt mind disposing of my own crap and rubbish if it meant that i didnt have to pay taxes!!

      Jacqui - 2012-06-10 11:36

      Danie, what are you selling?.

      Jacqui - 2012-06-10 11:38

      Danie come to think of it, if what ever you invented works. Go see Zille. we need solutions to this awful problem.

      Jacqui - 2012-06-10 11:41

      Billy citizens also have the duty to dispose of their own rubbish in a careful manner. In how many places do we have recycling?. Yes, Government has the duty to produce a better outcome. But where do they?.

      Jacqui - 2012-06-10 11:43

      Pat, so you think disposing of your crap and rubbish should give you a tax free life. How are you in maintaining the road outside your gate?.

      Germaine Staley - 2013-03-03 13:45

      You can send me details to Thanks

      Germaine Staley - 2013-03-03 13:51

      We all need to start taking responsibility for our own lives and actions. If you want things to change for the better, start looking at your own house and how you can streamline your systems so that everything gets used to the maximum. You do not need other people to be responsible for you and this is why the world is in such a mess. We have handed over the running of our lives to other people. If you don't like the job they are doing, do some research into how you can be responsible for your own house keeping in a way that does not pollute the environment. If you are really interested in how to do that, feel free to email me at I am not selling anything but I do have lots of advice on how you can take steps to be less dependent on the system

  • Mike Purchase - 2012-06-09 07:56

    Humans are destroying the earth.

      Chumscrubber1 - 2012-06-10 08:13

      We are quite ridiculous creatures, we have these so called large brains yet are destroying the planet that we depend on for survival. But be assured, not much will be done to rectify the problems, as it won't make "economic" sense. Money is our biggest measure of everything, that is why we are doomed to self destruct. We are what we are, we're heading for a fall, it's just a matter of time. I'm glad I did not bring children into this world, the adults are too selfish to care about their futures.

  • max.maxwell - 2012-06-09 08:06

    In the early 1990s the Govt. was already looking at ways to tighten legislation to improve the quality of effluent being discharged into the sea. Has the A.N.C. Govt done nothing about it in 18 years? Further, why is the Dept of Water Affairs permitting those who do not comply with the Regs. to continue discharging raw effluent? Now we know where the problems lie, lets chop off heads and get rid of dead wood!

      Chumscrubber1 - 2012-06-10 08:16

      And our rivers are full of sewage now as well, a much easier problem to deal with than the sea. Could it be that turds now occupy the seats in local governments?

  • Stef - 2012-06-09 08:44

    That is what crayfish, crabs, etc eat... You get the largest rock lobsters imaginable in the 200m down current from Swakopmund's sewage pipe?

  • carlbothabp - 2012-06-09 09:10

    We can cut the pollution in half if we eat less.

  • Sagin - 2012-06-09 09:32

    the anc has a puppet working at news 24, deleting any posts that expose the truth. shame on you news 24.

  • andrew.mckenzie.566 - 2012-06-09 09:53

    There was a way; but like other infrastructure its been allowed to decay. Now just get the sewerage treatment plants working again - and operate them properly.End of problem.

  • Sagin - 2012-06-09 12:05

    That is a shocking amount of sewerage, but still doesn't come close to the amount of sh!# at lutuli house

  • dee4877 - 2012-06-09 22:27

    ANC as ruling party do you care, as you can't get rich out of this.

  • Chumscrubber1 - 2012-06-10 08:19

    The litter problem could be improved by putting litter traps on storm water drains. Also, if the majority stopped treating our country like a dustbin, there would not be so much litter on the streets in the first place. Ships should also be inspected to ensure they bring their litter back to shore, currently it all goes overboard - into that big dustbin called the sea that feeds a massive portion of the highly intelligent human race.

  • Jay - 2012-06-10 10:30

    well if they had never invented the toilet then how can the be managing the sewage networks of south africa!

  • leveybush - 2012-07-20 08:19

    We have much to loose? This is rediculous, the oceans support human life - without it, we would surely die. Surely we can recycle waste by now?!

  • Germaine Staley - 2013-03-03 13:43

    Composting toilets are the answer. There is no reason why we should be using our water to purify sewage. The humanure can be put into bio digesters which kick off methane which could be used to create energy for cooking, heating and lighting. When we flush our waste down the toilet, we are flushing precious energy away which could be put to good use. If we all started using this system we could start to clean up the oceans and water courses

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