News / South Africa / Local News

Narissa Subramoney
Copy rewriter
2 minute read
18 Oct 2021
12:10 pm

Lake Mzingazi wildlife ‘covered in human faeces and toilet paper’, says DA KZN

Narissa Subramoney

The lake, which is also a popular tourist and fishing destination, continues to be polluted by sewage spills.

Lake Mzingazi wildlife 'covered in human faeces'. Picture: Zululand Observer.

Alarming levels of sewage continues to spill into Lake Mzingazi in Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) recently conducted an oversight visit to the region months after local news in the area reported escalated levels of E. coli were found in the water in May and June this year.

The situation arose from escalating sewerage spills from Richards Bay, which the DA said had “sadly become the norm”.

“Our oversight visit revealed the utter degradation of the lake, associated rivers and wetlands – with hippos and crocodiles covered in human faeces and toilet paper,” said the DA’s Heinz De Boer.

The party’s visit revealed that an ancient mangrove forest containing highly protected tree species had become a lake of festering sewage as pump stations continued to fail.

Lake Mzingazi wildlife 'covered in human faeces'
Escalated sewage spills in Richards Bay’s Lake Mzingazi. Photo DA KZN

There’s a concern for the last remaining wildlife in the surrounding rivers and lakes.

“Those animals continue to suffer as the uMhlathuze Municipality seems unable or unwilling to simply upgrade and refurbish its sewage pumping infrastructure,” said De Boer.

The DA has blamed financial mismanagement on the part of the municipality for the sewage spills, saying it is leading to massive environmental pollution and is an enormous threat to the city’s water supply. 

The city has been slapped with at least 17 compliance directives by province’s environmental affairs department.

According to local media reports, the City of uMhlathuze has experienced 548 sewage spills between January and March this year.

There were 58 overflows in the Richards Bay area, 224 in eSikhaleni and the surrounding regions, and 266 in the Empangeni area.

The majority of these spills also pollute the surface water in two local lakes; Lake Mzingazi in Richards Bay and Lake Cubhu in eSikhaleni. Both showed non-compliance with the levels of E. coli.

“Basic municipal service delivery is not an optional mandate for municipalities. If the current ANC-run leadership cannot get it right, they should step aside and let the DA get things done,” said De Boer.

Lake Mzingazi is one of the largest freshwater sources in KZN and is the primary source of Richards Bay’s drinking water.

Lake Mzingazi spans almost 950 hectares and is home to several species, including hippopotamus, crocodile and fish eagle.

Residents living near the swampy area have complained that every time it rains heavily, sewage flows out of the manhole cover and directly into the swamp, which leads to the lake. This had been ongoing for more than a decade.

Lake Mzingazi wildlife 'covered in human faeces'
The uMhlathuze Municipality is in dire need of an upgrade and refurbishment to its sewerage system. Picture: DA KZN.

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