Criminal case opened against municipality

2019-08-15 06:01
A criminal case has been opened against the Kouga Municipality for allegedly not resolving ongoing sewage spills at Pellsrus Beach. Here, avid community leader and owner of Masikhathalelaneni, Freddie van Rooyen, points out the raw sewage on the beach. Photos:MONIQUE BASSON

A criminal case has been opened against the Kouga Municipality for allegedly not resolving ongoing sewage spills at Pellsrus Beach. Here, avid community leader and owner of Masikhathalelaneni, Freddie van Rooyen, points out the raw sewage on the beach. Photos:MONIQUE BASSON

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A CRIMINAL case has been opened against the Kouga Municipality for allegedly not resolving ongoing sewage spills at Pellsrus Beach.

It was opened by a representative of the non-profit organisation, Masikhathalelaneni, after struggling for more than eight months to put a stop to the sewage spills.

Police spokesperson, Sergeant Majola Nkohli, confirmed that a case has been opened.

“A case of contravening the National Environmental Management Act 107 of 1998, with a second charge of contravening the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act 24 of 2008, has been opened against the municipality,” he said.

“The complainant alleged that on several occasions, he had witnessed a raw sewage spilling into the beach near Pellsrus in Jeffreys Bay.

“A case was opened and later transferred to the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries for further investigation.”

According to avid community leader and owner of Masikhathalelaneni, Freddy van Rooyen, who has been trying for several months to draw the municipality’s attention to the problem, the stormwater drain in Pells-rus has become a direct pipeline of raw sewage to the beach.

This, after the municipality connected a pipe from a nearby manhole to the drain at the corner of Dune Road and Seeleeu Street.

“The pipe, which was installed last year in December, serves as an overflow for the sewage that previously bubbled out at the manhole almost weekly - a longstanding problem.

Now the sewage runs directly into the stormwater drain, from where it spills onto the beach,” he said.

“Despite a visit to the municipality and municipal officials’ various visits to the site, the situation remains unchanged.

“The raw sewage that enters the sea forms a pitch black silt on the beach. And the stench is unbearable. If the east wind blows, no resident can dare to open a door or window.”

According to Van Rooyen, the dunes and vegetation are severely damaged.

“Except for the sewage that causes deep ditches in the dunes, municipality uses sand from the dunes to cover the raw sewage - causing irrevocable harm to the environment.”

Infrastructure and Engineering Portfolio Councillor, Freddy Campher, says, “The municipality received a pre-notice from the Department of Environmental Affairs regarding the allegations. We are busy preparing a report for them, outlining what the challenges are in the affected area and how these challenges are being managed.

“We are aware that a criminal case has been opened, but have not received official notification or details in this regard.

“As the case is ongoing, we cannot divulge further details at this stage.”

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