KZN

News ยป KZN

Witness Reporter
2 minute read
17 Mar 2021
11:19

Durban company fined millions for environmental breaches

Witness Reporter

Durban company Wood Glaze (Pty) Ltd was fined a total of R7.5 million in the Durban Regional Court after pleading guilty to environmental breaches.

Durban company Wood Glaze (Pty) Ltd was fined a total of R7.5 million in the Durban Regional Court after pleading guilty to environmental breaches.

The company pleaded guilty to contravening the National Environmental Management Waste Act, contravention of the National Water Act and two counts of contravention of the National Environmental Management Act, according to a statement issued by the National Prosecuting Authority.

The company was represented by Pravashkumar Inderjeeth.

In 2012, Wood Glaze bought land in Phoenix from eThekwini Municipality (namely Erf 1086 and Erf 1661).

They envisaged using the land to build low-cost houses for disadvantaged and impoverished communities.

However, there was a wetland on the property and the company filled in gravel and building rubble to build platforms on which the houses were to be built. This infilling caused parts of the wetland to erode, thus affecting the wetland and its buffer area, said NPA spokeswoman, Natasha Kara.

“In the plea, Wood Glaze conceded that they did not obtain permission from the Department of Environmental Affairs prior to infilling or depositing material into the watercourse/wetland; they negligently committed an act that has caused significant pollution and degeneration of the environment and disposing of waste negligently into the wetland/watercourse on the property.

“The company was fined R1 875 000 per count of which R1 250 000 per count is suspended for five years. Also, the company has to appoint a multidisciplinary specialised team to effectively rehabilitate the wetland. This team must be set up within 60 days of the court order.

“The effective fine of R2.5 million must be settled with R500 000 paid within 10 days of the court order and the remaining R2 million must be paid in 20 consecutive instalments of R 200 000 on or before the end of each month. The first instalment is due on 30 April 2021,” said Kara.

The matter was prosecuted by Senior State Advocate Yuri Gangai.

The Director of Public Prosecutions in KwaZulu-Natal, Advocate Elaine Zungu welcomed the conviction and sentence. “Preservation of the environment is vital and a national focus. The land was bought for a good purpose however, when undertaking the project, there were contraventions of the National Environmental Management Act, and such contraventions cannot be disregarded. Where there are contraventions to legislation related to the environment, the NPA will ensure that we properly guide investigations to enable successful prosecutions,” she said.