Court papers reveal how eThekwini leadership’s   negligence led to the dirty beaches crisis

Court papers reveal how eThekwini leadership’s negligence led to the dirty beaches crisis

Durban – The court case brought by ActionSA against eThekwini municipality and a host of other departments over the beach and sewer crisis has revealed how the metro started polluting rivers even before the April floods.

The court papers, filed in the Durban High Court, reveal how several sewer pump stations were not repaired for months, leaving sewers to pollute rivers and subsequently the eThekwini beaches

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In December, the city of Durban was shamed when it emerged that it could not host tourists because its beaches were contaminated by human waste coming out of the sewers that were not maintained.

This is contained in a response prepared by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs which is politically headed by MEC Siboniso Duma.

The 234-page affidavit with documented evidence of criminal charges, warnings and fines imposed on eThekwini municipality was prepared by Bonginkosi Robert Dlamini on behalf of Duma who is the sixth respondent in the case.

Interesting claims from the affidavits filed for the Durban high court in the matter where ActionSA is taking eThekwini municipality to court over the ongoing beach and sewer crisis. One affidavit from the KZN department of environmental affairs claims that the decision to

— Sihle Mavuso (@ZANewsFlash) February 7, 2023

Dlamini is the acting director of compliance, monitoring and enforcement in the department.

He opened his arguments by saying it was wrong for ActionSA to drag them into the matter on the basis that they had been “lackadaisical” (careless or lazy) to an extent that eThekwini municipality was allowed to get away with its litany of alleged environmental crimes.

He said they used every available piece of legislation to prevent eThekwini from polluting its own rivers, homes, estuaries and the Indian Ocean (beaches).

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At one point, Dlamini, on behalf of Duma, said when the April floods hit the municipality which is jointly cited with its mayor Mxolisi Kaunda in the matter, they asked them to prevent pollution and they did not act.

“The seventh respondent (eThekwini municipality) failed to comply with various notices issued by the department.

“The sixth respondent’s department including myself held a series of meetings, site inspections and other engagements with the seventh respondent to ensure compliance with the relevant legislation.

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“Since 2021 to date, the meetings were in respect of the pollution of the environment due to the disposal of sewage and the non-functioning of WWTWs and plants.”

Dlamini then listed several pollution incidents by eThekwini municipality, even citing one incident where a sewer pump was found to have not been repaired for months.

“Sewage lines were blocked and sewage was overflowing into the Ohlanga estuary. During the site inspection the department was informed that the Sibiya pump station had not been repaired since December 2021.

“The pump station was not operational,” Dlamini said in his affidavit filed on behalf of Duma.

In his affidavit, Dlamini also laid bare how the now infamous sewer flowing and polluting Umgeni river had been there for some time and eThekwini municipality never acted.

Dlamini also revealed how the eThekwini municipality ignored directives to act when it was polluting homes in Phoenix, in the north of Durban, and when a sewer was discharged into Isiphingo lagoon in the south.

Furthermore, the municipality polluted the Winkelspruit lagoon near Amanzimtoti with impunity and it polluted the uMhlanga lagoon.

The court papers also reveal how eThekwini municipality, probably shamed by failures, decided to re-open some of the beaches to tourism without any authority from the department.

“It is not denied that the department decided to close various beaches on August 22, 2022 and only re-opened three during December 2022.

“Save for three beaches which were re-opened, the sixth respondent (Duma) or the department did not approve the re-opening of any of the beaches which the seventh respondent (eThekwini) approved.

“These decisions taken by the seventh respondent (eThekwini) were not supported by assessment reports from the Seventh Respondent’s environment and health division or substantiated by various samples taken of the water quality.”

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