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'SAHRC to investigate Great Fish River sewage crisis' says DA Eastern Cape

Sep 3, 2019
'SAHRC to investigate Great Fish River sewage crisis' says DA Eastern Cape

Cradock - The inability of the Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) to curb the flow of raw sewage into the Great Fish River will now be investigated by the South African Human Rights Commission, the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Eastern Cape said on Tuesday.

"The Cradock Waste Water Treatment Works, which falls under auspices of the CHDM, is still not fully operational and raw sewage is still flowing unabated into the Great Fish River," said Retief Odendaal, MPL - DA Eastern Cape Midlands Constituency Leader.

"Access to clean drinking water and sanitation are basic human rights and therefore, on the 10th of July 2019, I wrote to the SAHRC and requested that it immediately intervenes in this matter." (See letter attached)

On the 26th of August 2019, he said he received feedback from the SAHRC’s Eastern Cape Provincial Manager, Abongile Sipondo, who confirmed that Odendaal's complaint will be investigated on the grounds that it contains a prima facia violation of a human right. (See letter attached)

"The discharge of raw sewage into the river, an issue that has been ongoing for years, could result in the water becoming so contaminated that it will no longer be fit for use as an irrigation source for farmers. This also poses a massive health and environmental risk to local communities," Odendaal added.

"A month has passed since the Acting City Manager of the CHDM, Dr Bhekisisa Mthembu, confirmed that reparations have begun at the Cradock Waste Water Treatment Works

"Very little work has taken place and the treatment works are still not operational.

"On the 10th of July 2019, I also laid criminal charges against the Municipality and Mr Mthembu at the Cradock Police Station. The charges relate to Section 151 (1) of the National Water Act 36 of 1998, following their continued intentional and wilful contamination and pollution of the Great Fish River."

Odendaal said that if those implicated are found guilty, they can face either up to 10 years imprisonment, a substantial fine or both.

"I have also previously written to the Green Scorpions to investigate this matter. Both these investigations are ongoing."

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