PMB Richards Bay

PMB Dump Latest: SAHRC wins court order against city

But air pollution and noxious smells in Salt Rock, Richard’s Bay, Illembe, Newcastle and PMB remain a problem for residents.

PMB Richards Bay

The Pietermaritzburg (PMB) High Court judgement in favour of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on the Msunduzi land fill saga is a “stark reminder” of the government failing in its responsibilities.

This was the criticism levelled against the Msunduzi Municipality in PMB and the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environment  Affairs (EDTEA) by DA KZN Spokesperson on Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Heinz de Boer, who used the case to highlight the province’s wider pollution woes. 

The ruling, handed down on Thursday, criticised Msunduzi Municipality’s running of the New England Road landfill site in PMB, ordering that it prepare a detailed and comprehensive action plan, with measurable deadlines for progress to deal with its ongoing problems.

“While the City of Msunduzi and the province’s Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) Department have been given leeway to lodge management plans for this dump, the DA is saddened by the fact that it has been left to the courts to enforce our Constitution,” de Boer said.

“The situation is also an indictment against both EDTEA and the city given that there were few improvements made at the site, even after an exhaustive and insightful oversight by EDTEA during the height of the dump fires. This entire debacle is typical of the lack of bite EDTEA has in controlling environmental pollution that constantly plagues KZN. DA investigations into the province’s hotspots reveal that several key towns and cities are continuously affected by pollution,” de Boer said.

“Air pollution and noxious smells remain the top issues for residents in Salt Rock, Richard’s Bay, Illembe, Newcastle and Msunduzi. This while the ENGEN refinery complaints also remain unresolved, again despite national and provincial oversight inspections.”

EDTEA spokesperson Bheki Mbanjwa said in a statement that the department had noted the judgment. 

“While the department was cited as a respondent, no order was sought or made against it. In fact, the department did not oppose the application but did submit an explanatory affidavit to assist the court in arriving at its decision,” Mbanjwa said.

“We believe the judgement in the main ratifies the recovery plan currently in implementation but gives it (the plan) the added weight of the court order and compels delivery and accountability in terms of a time-bound implementation process,” he said.

He said the department would continue to support the municipality to comply with the order while observing the department’s oversight and compliance enforcement responsibilities. 

“There are currently compliance notices issued by the department which the municipality is in the process of complying with. It is noted that the court did not make any cost orders which we believe is an acknowledgement of the legacy issues faced by the municipality and the good faith of the current administration in attempting to resolve challenges,” he said