The Democratic Alliance in Mpumalanga has welcomed the hefty R70million fine handed to the Lekwa Municipality by the Standerton Magistrates Court for contravening environmental legislature.
The municipality was found guilty on seven counts relating to: failure to comply with conditions stipulated in the waste management licence; prohibition of unauthorised disposal of waste; failure to comply with a compliance notice; unlawful water use; causing significant pollution to the environment; unlawful negligent disposition and distribution of raw untreated sewage; and failure to comply with directives issued.
“This is a clear indication that the municipality’s failure to adhere to ethical government practices has significantly contributed to its financial crisis.”
“The DA hopes that this ruling will send a message to the department of CoGTA that Lekwa needs their intervention. It is disappointing to note how different senior officials in this municipality have compromised the livelihoods of residents.”
According to the National Prosecuting Authority(NPA) the charges date back to incidenta that occurred between 2017 and 2022, when the municipality distributed and disposed of contaminated water in Standerton, which resulted in failure to comply with their licence. The municipality also negligently disposed of contaminated waste, which caused pollution to the environment.
“The municipality impeded the flow of contaminated water within public water channels and roads, they disposed of and distributed raw and untreated sewage into the municipal substations — Stein pump station, Rooikoppen, Johan Street, Muller and Taljaard pump stations,” said NPA Spokesperson Monica Nyuswa.
The court ordered that the fine is to be used to effect urgent and necessary repairs of all affected equipment. It further ordered that proof of expenditure and repairs must be submitted to the department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs.
In addition, R500 000 must be paid to the Department of Water and the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land affairs for liabilities incurred during the investigation,