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By Nicholas Zaal

Digital Journalist

‘Infrastructure and finances to blame’ – Govan Mbeki mayor accepts R200m pollution fine

Mayor Nhlakanipho Zuma admitted the pollution may have occurred beyond the November 2019 to September 2020 range, which had been investigated.

The Govan Mbeki municipality has accepted a court-imposed R200 million fine for polluting its rivers, though its mayor blamed challenges in infrastructure maintenance and a lack of skills for the environmental failure.

Speaking to Newzroom Afrika, the Mpumalanga municipality’s mayor, Nhlakanipho Zuma, admitted the pollution may have occurred beyond the November 2019 to September 2020 range that had been investigated.

ALSO READ: Mpumalanga municipality fined R200m for polluting rivers

“It had not only happened from 2019 to 202, it’s occurrence that might have taken a bit longer,” he said.

“But the challenge that was submitted to the court was for the period that is being presented.

Infrastructure to blame

“It is because of the fact that our infrastructure, unfortunately, had not been up to scratch, and unfortunately, for us to correct some of the challenges that we were facing, the municipality’s infrastructure required quite a lump sum of money and interventions and skills.”

Zuma said the municipality was limited in this regard at the time.

“That is why we have unfortunately been found guilty of this particular offence, which we are not faulting the court [for].

“We are in total agreement with the outcomes of the court.”

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Municipality guilty on six counts

The municipality was found guilty of six counts relating to contravention of the National Environmental Act (NEMA) 107 of 1998, pollution of water resources, contravention of the National Water Act 36 of 1998, failure to comply with a compliance notice, unauthorised disposal of water, and contravention of an Act that detrimentally affects water resources.

“During the period between November 2019 and September 2020, the municipality unlawfully committed an act which caused significant pollution to the environment,” an NPA statement read.

This included “the disposal and distribution of affluent raw and untreated sewer into the Emzinoni location, the eMbalenhle waste water treatment plant, Trichardt Spruit, Wela Mlambo, Leandra N17 Pump Station, Waterval Hoek River, Blesbok Spruit, and Groot Spruit”.

The municipality entered into a plea-and-sentence agreement.

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environment nature pollution water pollution