The Environmental, Health and Justice Network Forum from eMbalenhle laid charges against the Govan Mbeki Municipality on Monday.
“Here in Emba we are facing a big problem of sewerage,” said Keghla Mhlangu, spokesperson of the Forum, “The sewerage is spilling into our streams.” He continued by contributing a number of diseases to the sewerage spillages in eMbalenhle. “Diseases such as E. coli and diarrhoea,” he said.
Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria normally live in the intestines of healthy people and animals. Most varieties of E. coli are harmless or cause relatively brief diarrhoea. But a few particularly nasty strains, such as E. coli O157:H7, can cause severe abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhoea and vomiting.
Keghla stated that the municipality is violating the community’s constitutional rights and in particular section 24 of the Constitution. Section 24 (b) states that “everyone has the right to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures.” The sewerage problems in eMbalenhle have been ongoing for a number of years. Not only in eMbalenhle, but the whole of Govan Mbeki Municipality is affected by the sewerage spillages. One just has to drive on the N17 in Bethal to be met with the stench of sewerage. The bridge just past the Leandra Tollgate (JHB side) has been a landmark due to the stench of sewerage spillages for several years.
The Lebohang sewerage upgrade has still not produced a working sewerage plant, even though an amount of R12, 8m has been spent on the project. The initial budget was for R10m. The project could not be finished in the allotted timeframe and an additional R2,8m was budgeted for by the council. In eMbalenhle the sewerage continues to spill into the streams. The Bulletin has been told that the sewerage plant is only functioning in a limited capacity and most of the pump stations have been vandalised and are therefore not working. The pumps cannot be replaced because the fencing is not secure. Residents of all the towns have to deal with sewerage spillages on a daily basis, more so in the townships. Daily life would see trenches being dug to help direct the flow of sewerage. The stench would be overwhelming in certain areas.
The sewerage drains into our river systems that feed into the Vaal dam, this in turn, is our source of drinking water. “We hope that the Police will do a thorough investigation,” concluded Keghla.