City charged over dump

2019-10-09 10:31
Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube visited the New England Road landfill site yesterday to fast-track plans to extinguish the fire and provide assistance from provincial government.

Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube visited the New England Road landfill site yesterday to fast-track plans to extinguish the fire and provide assistance from provincial government. ( Moeketsi Mamane)

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The Msunduzi Municipality is facing a criminal charge for failing to comply with waste management conditions at the New England landfill site.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker confirmed the case was opened at the Alexandra Road police station and the matter was still under investigation.

The Witness understands that non-compliance was identified at the site since 2015; and following several compliance notices — “ too many to count” — and no response, Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube pursued the criminal charge.

While several engagements have taken place between the department and the municipality, even with administrator Sbu Sithole, no concrete action was forthcoming.

“Given the repeated non-compliances; the failure to comply with the requirements of the Compliance Notice, the poor response by the municipality to effectively address the issue; and to safeguard and protect the environmental rights of the citizens of Msunduzi, a complaint was lodged with SAPS on 27 September 2019 and a criminal case has been opened.

“The case is currently under investigation by departmental Enviromental Management inspectors. It is understood in discussion with the NPA that cases of this nature may take some time to reach the court roll,” confirmed a well-placed source.

EDTEA acting spokesperson Nathi Olifant confirmed the case but would not elaborate.

Msunduzi Mayor Mzimkhulu Thebolla said he was aware of the fine and charge and apologised to the people of Msunduzi. He added that the site had reached the end of its lifespan and they were “about to close it down and open a new refuse site”.

“If this site is not properly managed, it will always give us problems. I can’t say this is the last time there is such an incident, but we are working on a plan to control access and manage it properly,” said Thebolla.

Msunduzi spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said the municipality acknowledged the fine and their legal team will respond.

A fire has been raging at the landfill site since Friday and despite concerted efforts, remains alight covering the city in a cloud of smoke.

Intervening in the matter, MEC Dube-Ncube, who donned overalls and gumboots, visited the site on Tuesday and lashed out at the municipality. She said despite engaging with relevant local and national roleplayers, they realised on Monday that the situation was beyond the control of the municipality. “We have experienced a very serious breach of management of the landfill site … there is no management of the site at all. I’m glad we took a decision to institute the fines to the municipality for not managing the site in terms of the law in that there are no controls in place; that there are people working on the site and residing on the site and are not supposed to be here.”

Dube-Ncube said there were also no visible measures taken by the municipality, since the fire broke out, to show that they realised that the situation was serious and they needed to take action to deal with the situation. “We had engaged the municipality before, written letters of warning and advice. We’ve done everything before we got to this step where we then escalated it to the fines and the charge,” she said.

Adding that she knew that some consequence management was taking place, she said she would be holding management responsible for those who have not played their role to properly manage the site.

“I can tell you without any shadow of doubt that the situation is very bad. There is a lot of work. The way things are happening now is totally unacceptable and out of control and we have to deal with things here once and for all,” said Dube-Ncube. “We are happy that the national department has come through to give advice and to support what is going on here,” she said.

Dube-Ncube extended her gratitude to the firefighters and all those involved in the operation to extinguish the fire.

She will brief the KZN cabinet on the situation on Wednesday.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  dump fire
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