The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on Thursday said its urgent application against Msunduzi municipality over the state of its New England Road landfill site has been set down for hearing in the Pietermaritzburg high court.
The SAHRC said following an investigation into the deterioration and current state of the New England Road Landfill Site where several fires have emanated engulfing Pietermaritzburg in toxic smoke, it instituted an urgent application in the Pietermaritzburg High Court against the municipality which was initially set down before Judge Rashid Vahed on December 11.
Msunduzi Municipality and the HOD of the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs were ordered to file their respective opposing or answering affidavits by February 19.
“Whilst both the Head of Department and MEC for the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs have filed Notices to Abide by the decision of the Honourable Court, the Msunduzi Municipality has to date regretfully not filed their opposing/answering affidavit as per the court order,” the SAHRC said in a statement.
The MEC for the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs is also expected to file an explanatory affidavit by February 3, the SAHRC added.
The Commission said however after consulting its counsel and legal representatives the matter has been set down for hearing on February 15.
“The SAHRC remains deeply concerned with the state of the site and its prejudicial impact on the environment, public health and the human dignity of all persons affected.
“The various challenges that have plagued the landfill site over the years have attributed to the outbreak of fires and the emission of strong toxic fumes which continue to pose severe threats to the sustainability of the environment and to the health and well-being of residents in both the local and surrounding communities.
"The SAHRC therefore remains committed to ensuring that all necessary steps and/or measures are identified and implemented in order to remedy the situation and to minimise any further threats to the environment and to the health and well-being of the local communities,” it said.