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At the back of Renaissance School in Freedom Park, streams of raw sewage are running that residents, vehicles, and animals have to wade through. Photo supplied.

Threats to have MMs arrested if sewage problems don't get fixed

Date: 17 May 2024 By: Andries van Zyl

Not only the public but also the national government is clearly becoming fed up with municipalities’ inability to address continuous sewage spillages. Opposition parties have joined the chorus of disdain, and most recently, the Democratic Alliance in Limpopo laid criminal charges against the municipal managers of the Musina Local Municipality and Vhembe District Municipality.

The charges were laid on 3 May against the two managers, as “both Musina Local Municipality and Vhembe District Municipality are the responsible authorities for the sewerage system in Musina,” the DA states in a media release.

According to Lindy Wilson, member of the provincial legislature and the DA’s provincial spokesperson for CoGHSTA, the Musina sewerage system has been plagued by serious unchecked challenges for years, with sewage running into the Limpopo River daily. In the press release, Wilson highlights several sewage leaks: at the back of Renaissance School in Freedom Park, streams of raw sewage are running that residents, vehicles, and animals have to wade through. Schoonplaas has large sewage leaks running next to households and all around Schoonplaas stadium, and at Campbell, massive sewage leaks around and in the RDP houses have caused the displacement of residents.

“Residents report overflowing sewage almost on a daily basis, but both municipalities have failed to adequately address the challenges and find long-term solutions. The sewage smell and the overflow in some areas are unbearable,” says Wilson in the statement.

The criminal charges by the DA follow recent media reports that the national Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has opened 36 criminal cases against 26 municipalities to try and clean up the “stink” in many of South Africa’s towns and cities. The names of the 36 municipalities are contained in the most recent Green Drop Report. Despite the continuous sewage problems in Musina, the municipality does not, however, form part of the 10 Limpopo municipalities mentioned, nor are any of them situated in the Vhembe District Municipal area. The ten Limpopo municipalities are Dennilton, Groblersdal, Motetema, Marble Hall, Moganyaka, and Burgersfort, all situated in the Sekhukhune District Municipality; Giyani/Malamulele in the Mopani District Municipality; Rebone in the Mogalakwena Local Municipality; Modimolle in the Modimolle-Mookgophong Local Municipality; and Mokopane in the Mogalakwena Local Municipality. The cases against the 10 municipalities are ongoing and, according to media reports, only four of these 36 cases have led to convictions, of which three were in Mpumalanga and one in Gauteng after the municipalities agreed to a guilty plea and sentence agreements.

In response to the criminal charges brought against Vhembe municipal manager Mr Zwannda Norman Kutama, Vhembe municipal spokesperson Mr Matodzi Ralushai said on Tuesday that although he had not had time to speak to Mr Kutama about the matter, the issues raised by the DA were already receiving attention. He said they had an action plan to address the sewer challenges being experienced in Campbell, among other areas.

Regarding the precise nature of the action plan, Musina municipal spokesperson Mr Wilson Dzebu provided more details. “Sewer spillages remain a challenge within the urban areas of Musina, hence the Water Services Authority (VDM) has prioritised the implementation of sewer infrastructure refurbishment projects,” said Dzebu in response to the criminal charges brought against Musina municipal manager Nathi Tshiwanammbi.

Dzebu stated that the locations of the infrastructure-refurbishment projects included the Musina Waste Water Treatment Works, the Nancefield Waste Water Treatment Works, the Campbell Waste Water Treatment Works, and the China Town pump station.

“For the financial year of 2023/24, the projects have been allocated a budget of approximately R68,000,000 under the Water Services Infrastructure Grant (WSIG), and contractors have commenced construction,” said Dzebu. He concluded by saying that the improvement of the above facilities would cater to the current demand for sewer infrastructure. “Musina Local Municipality is committed to supporting all projects or initiatives aimed at achieving excellence in waste-water management,” Dzebu said.

 

 
 
 

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Andries van Zyl

Andries joined the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror in April 1993 as a darkroom assistant. Within a couple of months he moved over to the production side of the newspaper and eventually doubled as a reporter. In 1995 he left the newspaper group and travelled overseas for a couple of months. In 1996, Andries rejoined the Zoutpansberger as a reporter. In August 2002, he was appointed as News Editor of the Zoutpansberger, a position he holds until today.

 
 

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