A high court judge in Pretoria has lashed the Mookgophong/ Lephalale municipality for threatening residents’ health and access to clean water by mismanaging the municipal waste disposal site.
Acting Judge Moses Mphaga gave the municipality two months to draft an operational plan to rehabilitate its waste disposal site, which is just 10km from the Nylsvley Nature Reserve and 4km from a borehole field which mainly supplies Mookgophong’s more than 34 000 residents with water.
He said it should not have been necessary for AfriForum, which launched the application, to appoint experts to do what the conditions of the site permit required of the relevant authorities.
“It is unfortunate that this has become a trend in our beloved country. The residents have resorted to establishing various interest groups and civil society organisations to exercise oversight on the organs of state,” the judge said.
“This would be unnecessary if the organs of state were simply to do what they are constitutionally and legislatively mandated to do.”
The judge criticised the municipality for denying its constitutional responsibilities, being litigious and raising technical points against its own residents and ratepayers, saying it should rather use its resources to find a solution.
He ordered the municipality to collect all waste, including waste disposed of illegally, that is strewn across the dump on a single pile, then store the waste in skips and dispose of it in an environmentally safe way.
It must construct cells at the waste water disposal site, compact waste and cover it with soil and appoint surveyors to come up with a plan to divert and drain run-off water at the site.
It must also take water samples at every location at the dump – where leachable matter collects – for testing, and submit the test results to AfriForum’s attorneys.
The judge ordered the water and sanitation minister and Limpopo’s environmental MEC to monitor the municipality to ensure compliance with the court order.