Ruling expected in case against govt over alleged failure to crack down on Eskom and Sasol pollution

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
(iStock)
(iStock)
  • A ruling is expected in a case against the government over its alleged failure to crack down on air pollution by Eskom and Sasol.
  • The area in question is the so-called Highveld Priority Area, which includes much of Mpumalanga and part of Gauteng
  • A Greenpeace study for the third quarter of 2018 showed that Mpumalanga had the worst nitrogen dioxide emissions from power plants of any area in the world.



A judge is set to rule after the first ever case filed against the SA government over its alleged failure to crack down on air pollution emitted by power plants operated by Eskom and refineries owned by Sasol.

The case was filed in the Pretoria High Court by groundWork, an environmental-rights organization, and the Vukani Environmental Justice Movement in Action in 2019 and was heard by Judge Colleen Collis this week. The respondents in the case include President Cyril Ramaphosa, Environment Minister Barbara Creecy and provincial officials.

The so-called Highveld Priority Area, which includes much of Mpumalanga province and part of Gauteng, is the site of 12 coal-fired Eskom power plants, a Sasol oil refinery and coal-to-fuel plant owned by the company. A Greenpeace study for the third quarter of 2018 showed that Mpumalanga had the worst nitrogen dioxide emissions from power plants of any area in the world.

"This is in an effort to hold the government accountable to what they said they would do in terms of air pollution," said Rico Euripidou, an environmental campaigner for groundWork at a virtual press briefing Wednesday following the case. The case alleges that the government has breached citizen’s constitutional right to clean air.

Sulfur Dioxide

In her answering court papers Creecy said she is taking action to curb pollution from Sasol and Eskom, but environmental concerns must be balanced with the country’s developmental needs.

The plants also emit sulfur dioxide, mercury and fine particulate matter that cause illnesses ranging from asthma to lung cancer and contributes to birth defects, strokes and heart attacks. The lawsuit included affidavits from people with respiratory problems in Emalahleni, a town that lies in the heart of the coal-mining and power producing area of Mpumalanga.

In 2016, the air pollution caused between 305 and 650 early deaths in the region, according to a study commissioned by the Centre for Environmental Rights, which represented groundWork in the case, and carried out by Andy Gray, an American atmospheric scientist.

Together Eskom and Sasol emit over half of South Africa’s greenhouse gases. The country is the world’s 12th biggest source of the climate warning emissions.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Rand - Dollar
14.85
-0.0%
Rand - Pound
20.42
-0.0%
Rand - Euro
17.48
-0.0%
Rand - Aus dollar
10.94
-0.0%
Rand - Yen
0.13
-0.0%
Gold
1,802.28
0.0%
Silver
25.18
0.0%
Palladium
2,675.50
0.0%
Platinum
1,064.50
0.0%
Brent Crude
74.10
+0.4%
Top 40
61,933
+1.0%
All Share
68,064
+1.0%
Resource 10
66,904
+1.5%
Industrial 25
89,442
+0.7%
Financial 15
12,820
+1.0%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Company Snapshot
Voting Booth
In light of the recent looting, do you think a basic income grant is the right approach to deal with SA’s hunger and poverty problems?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
It will go a long way in helping fight the symptoms of SA’s entrenched inequality, especially for those who are starving right now
20% - 1270 votes
SA’s problems are complex, and we instead need to spend that money on building and growing our economy, which will help the country in the long run
31% - 2019 votes
All grants are a problem as they foster a reliance on handouts
49% - 3189 votes
Vote