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Transforming Society

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Restoring Dignity

SAHRC not happy with Msunduzi action plan for landfill

21 October 2021

DURBAN - THE THE South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has threatened to take the Msunduzi Municipality back to court over its failure to submit a proper action plan for the New England Road landfill site that will ensure it is no longer a threat to communities.
The commission accused the municipality of failing to submit an action plan with time frames to address the problems at the landfill site.

The SAHRC brought an application against the municipality last December. It said it was deeply concerned about the state of the site and its prejudicial impact on the environment and public health after several massive fires at the landfill.

In June, the Pietermaritzburg High Court found that the municipality was in breach of its obligations relating to the operation and management of the landfill site.

The court order was two-pronged as it included a declarator as well as a structural interdict.

In terms of the declarator, the court found the municipality to be in breach of the Revised Compliance Notice and the Variation Waste Management Licence issued to it by the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs.

In terms of the structural interdict, the municipality was ordered to file a detailed and comprehensive action plan with the court within a month of the date of the court order. The municipality was to thereafter file monthly reports with the court, indicating its progress in implementing the plan of action.

It is the report that was filed by the municipality that the SAHRC is not happy with. The SAHRC said the municipality submitted an action plan to the court in August but the plan set no deadlines for key targets.

The commission said the court order stipulated that the KZN provincial Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs had to approve the municipality’s action plan.

The commission said on behalf of the Pietermaritzburg residents, it sought compliance with conditions on the landfill licence that allows the municipality to manage the site.

“We would like to ensure that the site is managed so as to restrict access and prevent fires and other hazards,” it said.

Environmentalist Musa Chamane of groundWork said the plan was a rushed job as it was not the municipality’s initiative but had been ordered by the court.

“They are still focused on collection and disposal of waste and not looking at other ways of recycling.”

He said the municipality should encourage people not to send wet waste like leftover food and garden waste to the landfill site, but rather to turn that waste into compost.

Municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha disputed that the plan had no time frames, “The action plan had time frames that are realistic to the municipality’s financial ability (budget).”

Bheki Mbanjwa, spokesperson for Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, said the SAHRC has asked to consult the department.

Source: The Mercury

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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